Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 671: The Looks of a Winner: Beauty, Gender and Electoral Success

Niclas Berggren (), Henrik Jordahl () and Panu Poutvaara ()
Additional contact information
Niclas Berggren: The Ratio Institute, Postal: P.O. Box 5095, SE-102 42 Stockholm, Sweden
Henrik Jordahl: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Postal: P.O. Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
Panu Poutvaara: University of Helsinki, Postal: Department of Economics, P.O. Box 17, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland

Abstract: We study the role of beauty in politics. For the first time, focus is put on differences in how women and men evaluate female and male candidates and how different candidate traits relate to success in real and hypothetical elections. We have collected 16,218 assessments by 2,772 respondents of photos of 1,929 Finnish political candidates. Evaluations of beauty explain success in real elections better than evaluations of competence, intelligence, likability, or trustworthiness. The beauty premium is larger for female candidates, in contrast to findings in previous labor-market studies.

Keywords: Beauty; Gender; Elections; Political candidates; Beauty premium

JEL-codes: D72; J45; J70

23 pages, October 12, 2006

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