What Women Want: Suffrage, Gender Gaps in Voter Preferences and Government Expenditures

51 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2006

See all articles by Patricia Funk

Patricia Funk

University of Lugano

Christina Gathmann

Alfred-Weber Institut; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: July 2006


This paper combines unique individual-level information on ballot votes with state-level data on expenditures to provide new evidence on how women suffrage has affected government spending. Using data from the last country in Europe to adopt suffrage, Switzerland, we demonstrate two main results. First, women suffrage has changed the scope of government much more than its size. Women are more likely to support expenditures for public goods like environment and public transport, but oppose defense spending and subsidies for agriculture. Second, the political gender gap has shifted over time. While women were equally likely than men to support publicly provided health and welfare services shortly after suffrage adoption, their demand for these services has increased over the past two decades. We calculate that ten years after women suffrage, total expenditures are around 7 percent lower than prior to adoption, while welfare expenditures are 10 percent higher.

Keywords: Women Suffrage, Fiscal Policy, Voter Preferences, Switzerland

JEL Classification: H10, H50, J16, K00

Suggested Citation

Funk, Patricia and Gathmann, Christina, What Women Want: Suffrage, Gender Gaps in Voter Preferences and Government Expenditures (July 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=913802 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.913802

Patricia Funk (Contact Author)

University of Lugano ( email )

Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
Lugano, Ticino 6900

Christina Gathmann

Alfred-Weber Institut ( email )

Bergheimer Str. 20
Heidelberg, 69115

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/index_html?lang=en&mainframe=http%3A//www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos%

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~cgathman

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