Women and Party-Building: Evidence From Municipal Governments in Brazil
61 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2021 Last revised: 26 May 2022
Date Written: July 14, 2021
This paper highlights a new way in which descriptive representation enhances democracy, via inclusive party-building. We theorize that parties promote incumbents on a gendered criteria, incentivizing women to recruit party members to secure promotions. Moreover, gendered constraints lower women's access to patronage required for recruitment. These push and pull forces lead women to recruit women members as it lowers recruitment cost, is role congruent, and eases credit claiming. Using rich administrative data on party membership from 2004--2020, and a regression-discontinuity design in Brazil, we find that, despite resource disparities, women mayors recruit new members at similar rates as men, but reduce the gender gap in party membership. As expected, women are more likely to be promoted in constituencies where they most lower the gender gap in party membership. We also find that women's recruitment improve party resilience. Our findings have implications for the study of representation and party development.
Keywords: party building, gender, Brazil, party activists, recruitment, political economy
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