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The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Voters Reward It

Author

Listed:
  • Berggren, Niclas

    () (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Jordahl, Henrik

    () (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

  • Poutvaara, Panu

    () (University of Munich)

Abstract

Political candidates on the right are more beautiful or are seen as more competent than candidates on the left in Australia, Finland, France, and the United States. This appearance gap gives candidates on the right an advantage in elections, which could in turn influence policy outcomes. As an illustration, the Republican share of seats increased by an average of 6% in the 2000–2006 U.S. Senate elections because they fielded candidates who looked more competent. These shifts are big enough to have given the Republicans a Senate majority in two of the four Congresses in the studied time period. The Republicans also won nine of the 15 gubernatorial elections where looks were decisive. Using Finnish data, we also show that beauty is an asset for political candidates in intra-party competition and more so for candidates on the right in low-information elections. Our analysis indicates that this advantage arises since voters use good looks as a cue for conservatism when candidates are relatively unknown.

Suggested Citation

  • Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and Voters Reward It," Working Paper Series 855, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 08 Feb 2012.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0855
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Timothy Besley, 2004. "Joseph Schumpeter Lecture: Paying Politicians: Theory and Evidence," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 193-215, 04/05.
    2. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Abrevaya, Jason, 2013. "Beauty is the promise of happiness?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 351-368.
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    5. Amy King & Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Beautiful Politicians," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 579-593, November.
    6. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2010. "The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1-2), pages 8-15, February.
    7. Poutvaara, Panu & Jordahl, Henrik & Berggren, Niclas, 2009. "Faces of politicians: Babyfacedness predicts inferred competence but not electoral success," Munich Reprints in Economics 19800, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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    10. Belmi, Peter & Neale, Margaret, 2014. "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Thinking that one is attractive increases the tendency to support inequality," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 133-149.
    11. John Karl Scholz & Kamil Sicinski, 2015. "Facial Attractiveness and Lifetime Earnings: Evidence from a Cohort Study," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 97(1), pages 14-28, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Arunachalam Raj & Shah Manisha, 2012. "The Prostitute's Allure: The Return to Beauty in Commercial Sex Work," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-27, December.
    2. Shastitko, A., 2011. "Errors of I and II Types in Economic Exchanges with Third Party Enforcement," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, issue 10, pages 125-148.
    3. repec:ces:ifofor:v:18:y:2017:i:1:p:37-43 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem, 2017. "Do Parties Punish MPs for Voting Against the Party Line?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6503, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Beauty; Elections; Political candidates; Appearance; Ideology; Parties;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets
    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General

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