Working Paper Series
Olle Folke and Johanna Rickne
Female Representation but Male Rule? Party Competition and the Political Glass Ceiling
Abstract: A large literature has studied the context that affects
women’s numerical representation, but few have moved beyond numbers to
study the drivers of a gender gap in political influence among elected
politicians. Using panel data for the careers of 35.000 Swedish municipal
politicians over six election cycles we first document the said gender gap.
Women are substantially less likely to be re-elected for office, which is
the most important pre-condition for obtaining influential appointments.
Turing to the determinants we find that supply factors, primarily family
responsibilities, explain some of this gap. Meanwhile, demand factors such
as experience, age, education and income do not. Finding that competition
between political parties closes the gap, we argue that a negative bias
against women among party selectors thrives in contexts where meritocracy
is not enforced. Positive correlations between competition and measures of
competence for elected politicians of both genders further support this
Keywords: Careers in politics; Political competition; Supply of politicians; (follow links to similar papers)
JEL-Codes: H10; J16; J21; J45; (follow links to similar papers)
31 pages, September 5, 2012
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