Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies,
Uppsala University, Department of Economics

No 2012:9: Female representation but male rule? Party competition and the political glass ceiling

Olle Folke () and Johanna Rickne ()
Additional contact information
Olle Folke: Columbia University, Postal: SIPA & Research Institute for Industrial Economics
Johanna Rickne: Uppsala Center for Labor Studies, Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P.O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract: The share of women in legislative assemblies has grown substantially, but there is still under-representation and it is more severe for more influential appointments. This pattern is mirrored in Swedish municipalities, for which we analyze panel data on the career developments of all 35.000 elected politicians over six election cycles to examine why women fail to rise in the political hierarchy. We show that women have a higher turnover rate which keeps them from accumulating the seniority required to (ever) catch up with their male colleagues. In our analysis, we can rule out that less political experience, lower age, or different responses to changes in family structure are the major contributors to women’s disadvantage. Instead, we find that competition between political parties substantially improves women’s relative performance. We interpret this as evidence for a negative bias against women in the recruitment process being a major contributor to women’s high turnover rate.

Keywords: Careers in politics; Political competition; Supply of politicians

JEL-codes: D72; J45

28 pages, April 24, 2012

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