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Bias at the Ballot Box? Testing Whether Candidates' Gender Affects Their Vote

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  • Amy King
  • Andrew Leigh

Abstract

Using data from all elections to the Australian House of Representatives between 1903 and 2004, we examine the relationship between candidates’ gender and their share of the vote. We find that the vote share of female candidates is 0.6 percentage points smaller than that of male candidates (for major parties, the gap widens to 1½ percentage points), but find little evidence that the party preselection system is responsible for the voting bias against women. Over time, the gap between male and female candidates has shrunk considerably as a result of changes in social norms (as proxied by the gender pay gap and attitudinal data) and the share of female candidates running nationwide. We find little evidence that party-based affirmative action policies have reduced the gender penalty against female candidates.

Suggested Citation

  • Amy King & Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Bias at the Ballot Box? Testing Whether Candidates' Gender Affects Their Vote," CEPR Discussion Papers 625, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:625
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    File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP625.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Andrew Leigh, 2005. "Economic Voting And Electoral Behavior: How Do Individual, Local, And National Factors Affect The Partisan Choice?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17, pages 265-296, July.
    2. Francine D. Blau & Lawrence M. Kahn, 2003. "Understanding International Differences in the Gender Pay Gap," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 21(1), pages 106-144, January.
    3. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "Wage Structure and Gender Earnings Differentials: An International Comparison," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 63(250), pages 29-62, Suppl..
    4. Amy King & Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Are Ballot Order Effects Heterogeneous?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(1), pages 71-87.
    5. Kelley, Jonathan & McAllister, Ian, 1983. "The Electoral Consequences of Gender in Australia," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 13(03), pages 365-377, July.
    6. Milyo, Jeffrey & Schosberg, Samantha, 2000. "Gender Bias and Selection Bias in House Elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(1-2), pages 41-59, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economics of gender; elections; voting behaviour;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination

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