IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/tin/wpaper/20200026.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Election systems, the “beauty premium” in politics, and the beauty of dissent

Author

Listed:
  • Niklas Potrafke

    (University of Munich)

  • Marcus Rösch

    (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

  • Heinrich Ursprung

    (University of Konstanz)

Abstract

We ask three questions. First, do election systems differ in how they translate physical attractiveness of candidates into electoral success? Second, do political parties strategically exploit the “beauty premium” when deciding on which candidates to nominate, and, third, do elected MPs use their beauty premium to reap some independence from their party? Using the German election system that combines first-past-the-post election with party-list proportional representation, our results show that plurality elections provide more scope for translating physical attractiveness into electoral success than proportional representation. Whether political parties strategically use the beauty premium to optimize their electoral objectives is less clear. Physically attractive MPs, however, allow themselves to dissent more often, i.e. they vote more often against the party line than their less attractive peers.

Suggested Citation

  • Niklas Potrafke & Marcus Rösch & Heinrich Ursprung, 2020. "Election systems, the “beauty premium” in politics, and the beauty of dissent," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 20-026/V, Tinbergen Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20200026
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://papers.tinbergen.nl/20026.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Niclas Berggren & Henrik Jordahl & Panu Poutvaara, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and their Voters Reward it," CESifo Working Paper Series 3310, CESifo.
    2. Galasso, Vincenzo & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2015. "So closed: Political selection in proportional systems," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 260-273.
    3. Kauder Björn & Potrafke Niklas, 2019. "Conservative Politicians and Voting on Same-sex Marriage," German Economic Review, De Gruyter, vol. 20(4), pages 600-617, December.
    4. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Dress for success--does primping pay?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
    5. Hamermesh, Daniel S., 2006. "Changing looks and changing "discrimination": The beauty of economists," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 93(3), pages 405-412, December.
    6. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem, 2017. "Do Parties Punish MPs for Voting Against the Party Line?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 63(3), pages 317-332.
    7. Hamlin, Alan & Jennings, Colin, 2011. "Expressive Political Behaviour: Foundations, Scope and Implications," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(3), pages 645-670, July.
    8. Berggren, Niclas & Jordahl, Henrik & Poutvaara, Panu, 2017. "The right look: Conservative politicians look better and voters reward it," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 79-86.
    9. Amy King & Andrew Leigh, 2009. "Beautiful Politicians," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(4), pages 579-593, November.
    10. 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.
    11. David S. Lee, 2001. "The Electoral Advantage to Incumbency and Voters' Valuation of Politicians' Experience: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Elections to the U.S..," NBER Working Papers 8441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859.
    13. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    14. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke, 2016. "Supermajorities and Political Rent Extraction," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 65-81, February.
    15. Maaser, Nicola & Stratmann, Thomas, 2018. "Election rules, legislators' incentives, and policy outcomes: Evidence from the mixed member system in Germany," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 227-239.
    16. Savolainen, Jukka & Brauer, Jonathan R. & Ellonen, Noora, 2020. "Beauty is in the eye of the offender: Physical attractiveness and adolescent victimization," Journal of Criminal Justice, Elsevier, vol. 66(C).
    17. Gabriel S. Lenz & Chappell Lawson, 2011. "Looking the Part: Television Leads Less Informed Citizens to Vote Based on Candidates’ Appearance," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 55(3), pages 574-589, July.
    18. Nicholas O Rule & Nalini Ambady, 2010. "Democrats and Republicans Can Be Differentiated from Their Faces," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 5(1), pages 1-7, January.
    19. Anne Case & Christina Paxson, 2008. "Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 116(3), pages 499-532, June.
    20. Christopher Snyder & Ran Zhuo, 2018. "Sniff Tests as a Screen in the Publication Process: Throwing out the Wheat with the Chaff," NBER Working Papers 25058, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. Carmelo Licata & Pierre-Guillaume Méon, 2016. "Partisan stereotypes," Working Papers CEB 16-037, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    22. Hillman, Arye L., 2010. "Expressive behavior in economics and politics," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 403-418, December.
    23. Snyder, Christopher & Zhuo, Ran, 2018. "Sniff Tests in Economics: Aggregate Distribution of Their Probability Values and Implications for Publication Bias," MetaArXiv 8vdrh, Center for Open Science.
    24. David Stromberg, 2008. "How the Electoral College Influences Campaigns and Policy: The Probability of Being Florida," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 769-807, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Behavioral political economy: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 395-417.
    2. Niclas Berggren & Henrik Jordahl & Panu Poutvaara, 2010. "The Right Look: Conservative Politicians Look Better and their Voters Reward it," CESifo Working Paper Series 3310, CESifo.
    3. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem, 2017. "Do Parties Punish MPs for Voting Against the Party Line?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 63(3), pages 317-332.
    4. Dilmaghani, Maryam, 2020. "Beauty perks: Physical appearance, earnings, and fringe benefits," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 38(C).
    5. Astghik Mavisakalyan, 2016. "Looks matter: Attractiveness and employment in the former soviet union," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1604, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.
    6. 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.
    7. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2014. "Behavioral public choice: A survey," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/03, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    8. Mavisakalyan, Astghik, 2018. "Do employers reward physical attractiveness in transition countries?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 38-52.
    9. Francesca Acacia & Maria Cubel Sanchez, 2014. "Strategic voting and happiness," Chapters,in: A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 7, pages 160-176 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    10. Daniel Hamermesh, 2012. "Tall or taller, pretty or prettier: is discrimination absolute or relative?," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 1(1), pages 1-17, December.
    11. Arye L. Hillman & Heinrich W. Ursprung, 2016. "Where are the rent seekers?," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 124-141, June.
    12. Francesca Acacia & Maria Cubel Sanchez, 2014. "Strategic voting and happiness," Chapters, in: Francesco Forte & Ram Mudambi & Pietro Maria Navarra (ed.), A Handbook of Alternative Theories of Public Economics, chapter 7, pages 160-176, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    13. Hillman, Arye L. & Metsuyanim, Kfir & Potrafke, Niklas, 2015. "Democracy with group identity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 274-287.
    14. Andrea Bonoldi & Chiara Dalle Nogare & Martin Mosler & Niklas Potrafke, 2020. "Do inheritance rules affect voter turnout? Evidence from an Alpine region," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 395-445, December.
    15. Stefano Camatarri & Francesco Zucchini, 2019. "Government coalitions and Eurosceptic voting in the 2014 European Parliament elections," European Union Politics, , vol. 20(3), pages 425-446, September.
    16. Marcelin Joanis, 2011. "The road to power: partisan loyalty and the centralized provision of local infrastructure," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(1), pages 117-143, January.
    17. Eiji Yamamura & Ryohei Hayashi & Yoshiro Tsutsui & Fumio Ohtake, 2018. "Racers f attractive looks, popularity, and performance: How do speedboat racers react to fans f expectations?," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 18-28, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.
    18. Claus Michelsen & Peter Boenisch & Benny Geys, 2014. "(De)Centralization and voter turnout: theory and evidence from German municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 469-483, June.
    19. Potrafke, Niklas, 2013. "Minority positions in the German Council of Economic Experts: A political economic analysis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 31(C), pages 180-187.
    20. Carmelo Licata & Pierre-Guillaume Méon, 2016. "Partisan stereotypes," Working Papers CEB 16-037, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    attractiveness of politicians; safe district; party strategies; electoral success; electoral system;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J70 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - General
    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tin:wpaper:20200026. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/tinbenl.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Tinbergen Office +31 (0)10-4088900 (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/tinbenl.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.