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Does Female Suffrage Increase Public Support for Government Spending? Evidence from Swiss Ballots

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  • Hofer, Katharina E.

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Abstract

In this paper, I challenge the notion that women prefer larger governments than men which is why extending the franchise to women has led to an increase in government spending in many industrialized countries. I estimate the average treatment effect of being female on support for government spending, by analyzing the voting outcomes of two similar Swiss referendum votes concerning the federal government's authorization to levy income, capital and turnover taxes. The first ballot took place shortly before the extension of suffrage to women in February 1971, and the other one directly thereafter. Based on municipal voting data, I relate the increase in the electorate to the difference in acceptance rates for the two propositions. Surprisingly, I find that approval for government spending is higher among the male population. Further, I conduct a mediation analysis based on post-ballot surveys after comparable votes in 1981, 1991, and 1993. The intrinsic direct effect of being female proves to be the driving force behind the negative gender gap. In contrast, socioeconomic mediators like employment status or education turn out to play a weaker role.

Suggested Citation

  • Hofer, Katharina E., 2015. "Does Female Suffrage Increase Public Support for Government Spending? Evidence from Swiss Ballots," Economics Working Paper Series 1502, University of St. Gallen, School of Economics and Political Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:usg:econwp:2015:02
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    File URL: http://ux-tauri.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/econwp/EWP-1502.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2011. "The enfranchisement of women and the welfare state," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 535-553, May.
    2. James Andreoni & Lise Vesterlund, 2001. "Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 293-312.
    3. Imai, Kosuke & Yamamoto, Teppei, 2013. "Identification and Sensitivity Analysis for Multiple Causal Mechanisms: Revisiting Evidence from Framing Experiments," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 21(02), pages 141-171, March.
    4. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
    5. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588.
    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. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Female Suffrage; Gender Preference Gap; Voting; Direct Democracy; Mediation;

    JEL classification:

    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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