Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden

63 Pages Posted: 15 Jul 2014

See all articles by Timothy J. Besley

Timothy J. Besley

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Olle Folke

Uppsala University - Department of Government

Torsten Persson

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES); London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Johanna Karin Rickne

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI)

Date Written: November 7, 2013

Abstract

Efforts to increase female political representation are often thought to be at odds with meritocracy. This paper develops a theoretical framework and an empirical analysis to examine this idea. We show how the survival concerns of a mediocre male party leadership can create incentives for gender imbalance and more incompetent men in office. The predictions are tested with data on candidates in Swedish municipalities over seven elections (1988-2010), where we use administrative data on labor-market performance to craete a measure of the competence of politicians. We investigate the effects of the "zipper" quota, requiring party groups to alternate male and female names on the ballot, unilaterally implemented by the Social Democratic party in 1993. Far from being at odds with meritocracy, this quota increased the competence of male politicians where it raised the share of female representation the most.

Keywords: Gender quota; Competence; Political Selection

JEL Classification: H70, J16

Suggested Citation

Besley, Timothy J. and Folke, Olle and Persson, Torsten and Rickne, Johanna Karin, Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden (November 7, 2013). IFN Working Paper No. 985. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2465902 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2465902

Timothy J. Besley

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
+44 20 7955 6702 (Phone)
+44 20 7955 6951 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Olle Folke (Contact Author)

Uppsala University - Department of Government ( email )

Scheelev├Ągen 15 D
SE-223 70
Lund
Sweden

Torsten Persson

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden
+46 8 163066 (Phone)
+46 8 164177 (Fax)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Johanna Karin Rickne

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) ( email )

Kyrkgatan 43B
SE-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden

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