Gender Gaps in Policy Making: Evidence from Direct Democracy in Switzerland
36 Pages Posted: 25 Nov 2008 Last revised: 24 Nov 2010
Date Written: November 10, 2010
This paper exploits a natural experiment to investigate the consequences of women making politics at large scale. Our analysis focuses on Switzerland, the world leader in direct democracy, where all citizens can directly decide on a broad range of policies in referendums and initiatives. Exploiting surveys on individual voting behavior for all federal votes held between 1983 and 2003, we show that there are large gender gaps in the areas of health, environmental protection, defense spending and welfare policy which typically persist even conditional on socio-economic characteristics. We also find that female policy makers have a substantial effect on the composition of public spending, but a small effect on the overall size of government.
Keywords: Female Policy Makers, Political Gender Gaps, Switzerland
JEL Classification: H11, H31, H50, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation