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Personality Traits and the Gender Gap in Ideology

Author

Listed:
  • Rebecca Morton

    (Department of Politics, NYU NYC)

  • Jean-Robert Tyran

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Erik Wengström

    (Department of Economics, Lund University, Sweden)

Abstract

What explains the gender gap in ideology, i.e. the observation that women tend to be more leftist than men? We provide new evidence showing that personality traits play a key role. Using a novel high-quality data set, we show that the mediating (i.e. indirect) effects of gender operating through personality traits by far dominate the direct effects of gender. They also dominate other potential differences between the sexes like income or education as explanatory factors. Our findings suggest that women tend to be more leftist than men mainly because they have different personalities, which, in turn, shape their expressed ideology. Taking such mediating effects of personality traits into account explains over three quarters of the observed gender gap in general ideological preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Rebecca Morton & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2016. "Personality Traits and the Gender Gap in Ideology," Discussion Papers 16-08, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:1608
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/english/research/publications/wp/dp_2016/1608.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lena Edlund & Laila Haider & Rohini Pande, 2005. "Unmarried Parenthood and Redistributive Politics," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(1), pages 95-119, March.
    2. Karl Kaltenthaler & Stephen Ceccoli & Ronald Gelleny, 2008. "Attitudes toward Eliminating Income Inequality in Europe," European Union Politics, , vol. 9(2), pages 217-241, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Rebecca Morton & Jean-Robert Tyran & Erik Wengström, 2011. "Income and Ideology: How Personality Traits, Cognitive Abilities, and Education Shape Political Attitudes," Discussion Papers 11-08, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    5. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
    6. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap and the Decline in Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:104:y:2010:i:01:p:111-133_00 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Personality traits; political preference; gender;

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • D79 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Other

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