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Does Female Suffrage Increase Public Support for Government Spending? Evidence from Swiss Ballots

  • Katharina E. Jaronicki
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    In this paper, I analyze the voting outcomes of two very similar Swiss referendum ballots concerning the federal government’s competency to levy income, capital and turnover taxes to find out how the enfranchisement of women influences public support for government spending. The first ballot took place shortly before the extension of suffrage to women in February 1971, and the other shortly thereafter. I estimate the impact of introducing female voting on the difference in acceptance rates for the two propositions. Surprisingly, I find that approval for government spending is higher among the male population. I provide additional evidence from post-ballot surveys after similar ballots to overcome potential strategic voting problems which cannot be answered by analyzing aggregate data. My results suggest rethinking the notion that female suffrage caused public spending to increase.

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    Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 4467.

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    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4467
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    1. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
    2. Luttmer, Erzo F. P. & Singhal, Monica, 2008. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," Working Paper Series rwp08-038, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    3. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
    4. Graziella Bertocchi, 2007. "The Enfranchisement of Women and the Welfare State," CHILD Working Papers wp15_07, CHILD - Centre for Household, Income, Labour and Demographic economics - ITALY.
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    6. repec:oup:qjecon:v:123:y:2008:i:3:p:1287-1327 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Alois Stutzer & Lukas Kienast, 2005. "Demokratische Beteiligung und Staatsausgaben: Die Auswirkungen des Frauenstimmrechts," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 141(IV), pages 617-650, December.
    8. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
    9. Patricia Funk, 2010. "Social Incentives and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the Swiss Mail Ballot System," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 1077-1103, 09.
    10. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
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    14. Abrams, Burton A & Settle, Russell F, 1999. " Women's Suffrage and the Growth of the Welfare State," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 100(3-4), pages 289-300, September.
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