War and the Political Zeitgeist: Evidence from the History of Female Suffrage
44 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2012
Date Written: April 25, 2012
Despite the great social upheaval associated with state warfare, empirical evidence linking conflict with institutional development is limited. This paper examines the hypothesis that international wars accelerated democratization by fostering political inclusion. Employing survival analysis, I find that during the 20th century, nations which engaged in external conflict were more than twice as likely to extend the franchise to women in the post-conflict period, even after controlling for other commonly cited determinants of suffrage adoption. I explore several potential mechanisms for this association and find evidence consistent with stories which connect war with increased national unity, ideological fervor, and international posturing. Finally, examining conflict-induced changes in sex ratios and female labor force participation suggests that the underlying determinants of suffrage expansion at the national and sub-national level differ, implying that distinct theory may be needed to explain institutional change in each setting.
Keywords: female suffrage, voting, franchise, war, conflict, sex ratios
JEL Classification: P48, N4, K19, 01
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation