Does Gender Matter for Political Leadership? The Case of U.S. Mayors

39 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2011 Last revised: 20 Dec 2011

See all articles by Fernando V. Ferreira

Fernando V. Ferreira

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Joseph Gyourko

University of Pennsylvania - Real Estate Department; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: December 2011

Abstract

What are the consequences of electing a female leader for policy and political outcomes? We answer this question in the context of U.S. cities, where women's participation in mayoral elections increased from negligible numbers in 1970 to about one-third of the elections in the 2000's. We use a novel data set of U.S. mayoral elections from 1950 to 2005, and apply a regression discontinuity design to deal with the endogeneity of female candidacy to city characteristics. In contrast to most research on the influence of female leadership, we find no effect of gender of the mayor on policy outcomes related to the size of local government, the composition of municipal spending and employment, or crime rates. While female mayors do not implement different policies, they do appear to have higher unobserved political skills, as they have a 6-7 percentage point higher incumbent effect than a comparable male. But we find no evidence of political spillovers: exogenously electing a female mayor does not change the long run political success of other female mayoral candidates in the same city or of female candidates in local congressional elections.

Suggested Citation

Ferreira, Fernando V. and Gyourko, Joseph E., Does Gender Matter for Political Leadership? The Case of U.S. Mayors (December 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17671, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1973882

Fernando V. Ferreira (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3641 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States
215-898-7181 (Phone)
215-573-2220 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://real.wharton.upenn.edu/~fferreir/

Joseph E. Gyourko

University of Pennsylvania - Real Estate Department ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6330
United States
215-898-3003 (Phone)
215-573-2220 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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