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The Good, the Bad, and the Different: Can Gender Quotas Raise the Quality of Politicians?

  • Júlio, Paulo Fernando
  • Tavares, José

This paper models, for the first time, the relationship between gender quotas and the quality of elected public officials. In our economy, females and males can be either high or low-skill. The number of high-skill individuals elected for public office determines the overall quality of politicians. Women suffer from gender discrimination in the labor market and in the political market, and are underrepresented in elected political bodies in the status quo. Introducing a quota increases the probability of election for women and decreases it for men. The impact of the quota on quality depends on the skills of those individuals from the discriminated (over-represented) group that are encouraged (discouraged) to run for office. We demonstrate that a higher gender quota only decreases the overall quality of those elected when the rewards from public oce are low, or when the rewards from pubic office are high but women are significantly discriminated against in the political market versus the labor market. In other cases, a quota either decreases quality only initially, but for sufficiently high values there is a positive effect on quality, or leads to immediate increases in quality. Our model also formalizes the role that policies fighting discrimination may have on the number and type of women elected.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 7917.

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Date of creation: Jul 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7917
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  1. Braz Camargo & Ralph Stinebrickner & Todd Stinebrickner, 2008. "Evidence About the Potential Role for Affirmative Action in Higher Education," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20084, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
  2. Cavalcanti, Tiago & Tavares, José, 2007. "The Output Cost of Gender Discrimination: A Model-Based Macroeconomic Estimate," CEPR Discussion Papers 6477, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Panu Poutvaara & Tuomas Takalo, 2004. "Candidate Quality," Public Economics 0406009, EconWPA.
  4. Milyo, Jeffrey & Schosberg, Samantha, 2000. " Gender Bias and Selection Bias in House Elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(1-2), pages 41-59, October.
  5. Matthias Messner & Mattias Polborn, 2003. "Paying Politicians," Working Papers 246, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  6. Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2005. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 347-373, March.
  7. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2008. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," NBER Working Papers 13727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Francois Maniquet & Massimo Morelli & Guillaume Frechette, 2005. "Endogenous Affirmative Action: Gender Bias Leads to Gender Quotas," Economics Working Papers 0051, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
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