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Does female suffrage increase public support for government spending? Evidence from Swiss ballots


  • Jaronicki, Katharina


Does the enfranchisement of women lead to an increase in public support for government spending? By utilizing a natural experiment from Switzerland, I test this hypothesis empirically. I analyze the voting outcomes of two very similar referendum ballots concerning the federal government's competency to levy income, capital and turnover taxes. The first ballot has taken place shortly before the extension of suffrage to women in February 1971, and the other thereafter. To shed light on the existence of gender gaps in approval for government spending, I first estimate the additional turnout due to the introduction of female suffrage, and then estimate the additional turnout's impact on the percentage of yes votes. Surprisingly, I find that approval for government spending is higher among the male population. To overcome concerns that the results might only hold conditionally on voter participation decisions, I provide additional evidence from a probit analysis of a post-ballot survey. These are conducted for voters and non-voters and confirm that the results extend to the non-voting population. My results complement the findings of previous literature which suggest that in the analysis of gender preference gaps for government expenditure spending categories like e.g. welfare and non-welfare items should be distinguished.

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  • Jaronicki, Katharina, 2013. "Does female suffrage increase public support for government spending? Evidence from Swiss ballots," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79921, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc13:79921

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Patricia Funk, 2010. "Social Incentives and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the Swiss Mail Ballot System," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 1077-1103, September.
    2. Grant Miller, 2008. "Women's Suffrage, Political Responsiveness, and Child Survival in American History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1287-1327.
    3. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2011. "The enfranchisement of women and the welfare state," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 535-553, May.
    4. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
    5. Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Monica Singhal, 2011. "Culture, Context, and the Taste for Redistribution," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 157-179, February.
    6. 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.
    7. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
    8. Alois Stutzer & Lukas Kienast, 2005. "Demokratische Beteiligung und Staatsausgaben: Die Auswirkungen des Frauenstimmrechts," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 141(IV), pages 617-650, December.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
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    13. Abrams, Burton A & Settle, Russell F, 1999. "Women's Suffrage and the Growth of the Welfare State," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 100(3-4), pages 289-300, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Audinga Baltrunaite & Alessandra Casarico & Paola Profeta & Giulia Savio, 2016. "Let the Voters Choose Women," CESifo Working Paper Series 5693, CESifo Group Munich.

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    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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