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Women and Power: Unwilling, Ineffective, or Held Back?

Author

Listed:
  • Casas-Arce, Pablo

    () (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

  • Saiz, Albert

    () (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Abstract

We develop a model that nests previous explanations for women under-representation in positions of power. Focusing on democratic electoral dynamics, our framework delineates the three types of mechanisms that may be at play: consumer demand, candidate supply, and internal party dynamics beyond electoral markets. We use Spain's Equality Law, requiring a 40 percent female quota in electoral lists, to test the alternative theories. The law was enacted by the social-democratic party after the surprise parliamentary electoral results following the Madrid terrorist bombings, and was therefore completely unexpected by regional political machines. The law only applied to towns with populations above 5000, so we can use a treatment-control, before-and-after discontinuity design to learn about the impact of female politicians in local elections. Our evidence is most consistent with the existence of entrenched male-dominated political machines capturing influential power positions within the parties.

Suggested Citation

  • Casas-Arce, Pablo & Saiz, Albert, 2011. "Women and Power: Unwilling, Ineffective, or Held Back?," IZA Discussion Papers 5645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5645
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Lori Beaman & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Rohini Pande & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1497-1540.
    2. Irma Clots-Figueras, 2012. "Are Female Leaders Good for Education? Evidence from India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 212-244, January.
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    4. Ferreira, Fernando & Gyourko, Joseph, 2014. "Does gender matter for political leadership? The case of U.S. mayors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 24-39.
    5. Joseph Price & Justin Wolfers, 2010. "Racial Discrimination Among NBA Referees," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1859-1887.
    6. Tiago V. De V. Cavalcanti & José Tavares, 2011. "Women Prefer Larger Governments: Growth, Structural Transformation, And Government Size," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 49(1), pages 155-171, January.
    7. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Do Women Shy Away From Competition? Do Men Compete Too Much?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1067-1101.
    8. Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann, 2015. "Gender gaps in policy making: evidence from direct democracy in Switzerland," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(81), pages 141-181.
    9. Manuel F. Bagues & Berta Esteve-Volart, 2010. "Can Gender Parity Break the Glass Ceiling? Evidence from a Repeated Randomized Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(4), pages 1301-1328.
    10. De Paola, Maria & Scoppa, Vincenzo & Lombardo, Rosetta, 2010. "Can gender quotas break down negative stereotypes? Evidence from changes in electoral rules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(5-6), pages 344-353, June.
    11. Esteve-Volart, Berta & Bagues, Manuel, 2012. "Are women pawns in the political game? Evidence from elections to the Spanish Senate," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 387-399.
    12. Ayres, Ian & Siegelman, Peter, 1995. "Race and Gender Discrimination in Bargaining for a New Car," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 304-321, June.
    13. Albert Saiz & Susan Wachter, 2011. "Immigration and the Neighborhood," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 169-188, May.
    14. Reuben, Ernesto & Rey-Biel, Pedro & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2012. "The emergence of male leadership in competitive environments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 111-117.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. ¿Comprometen las cuotas la calidad de los políticos? No parece.
      by Luis Abenza in Politikon on 2015-03-24 14:02:44

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    Cited by:

    1. Sonia Bhalotra & Irma Clots-Figueras, 2014. "Health and the Political Agency of Women," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 164-197, May.
    2. Baltrunaite, Audinga & Bello, Piera & Casarico, Alessandra & Profeta, Paola, 2014. "Gender quotas and the quality of politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 62-74.
    3. Pamela Campa & Manuel Bagues, "undated". "Can Gender Quotas in Candidate Lists Empower Women? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design," Working Papers 2017-06, Department of Economics, University of Calgary.
    4. De Paola, Maria & Scoppa, Vincenzo & De Benedetto, Marco Alberto, 2014. "The impact of gender quotas on electoral participation: Evidence from Italian municipalities," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 141-157.
    5. Bhalotra, Sonia & Clots-Figueras, Irma & Iyer, Lakshmi, 2013. "Path-Breakers: How Does Women’s Political Participation Respond to Electoral Success?," Economics Discussion Papers 9008, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
    6. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:335:p:454-479 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Paulo Júlio & José Tavares, 2017. "The Good, the Bad and the Different: Can Gender Quotas Raise the Quality of Politicians?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(335), pages 454-479, July.
    8. repec:esx:essedp:739 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    female political representation;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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