Gender Biases: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in French Local Elections
28 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 8, 2017
Women are under-represented in politics. In this paper, we test one of the frequently given explanations for this puzzle: gender bias from voters. We use a natural experiment during the French Départementales elections of 2015: for the first time in this country, candidates had to run by pairs, which had to be gender-balanced. The order of the candidates on the ballot was determined by alphabetical order, thus making the order of appearance of male and female candidates as-good-as-random. This setting allows us isolating gender biases from selection effects. Our main result is that there exists a negative gender bias affecting right-wing candidates, who receive less votes when the female candidate appears first on the ballot. The effect is sizable and corresponds to about 10% of a standard deviation in relative shares of votes. Gender biases against right-wing candidates are amplified when the female candidate is retired, and reverted when the female candidate is particularly young. However, we do not find evidence of gender-biases against candidates of other parties.
JEL Classification: D72, J16, O52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation