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Beautiful Politicians

33 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2007  

Amy King

University of South Australia

Andrew Leigh

Australian National University - Economics Program, Research School of Social Sciences

Date Written: January 2007

Abstract

Are beautiful politicians more likely to be elected? To test this, we use evidence from Australia, a country in which voting is compulsory, and in which voters are given 'How to Vote' cards depicting photos of the major party candidates as they arrive to vote. Using raters chosen to be representative of the electorate, we assess the beauty of political candidates from major political parties, and then estimate the effect of beauty on voteshare for candidates in the 2004 federal election. Beautiful candidates are indeed more likely to be elected, with a one standard deviation increase in beauty associated with a 1½ - 2 percentage point increase in voteshare. Our results are robust to several specification checks: adding party fixed effects, dropping well-known politicians, using a non-Australian beauty rater, omitting candidates of non-Anglo Saxon appearance, controlling for age, and analyzing the 'beauty gap' between candidates running in the same electorate. The marginal effect of beauty is larger for male candidates than for female candidates, and appears to be approximately linear. Consistent with the theory that returns to beauty reflect discrimination, we find suggestive evidence that beauty matters more in electorates with a higher share of apathetic voters.

Keywords: Economics of beauty, elections, voter rationality, information shortcuts, thin slices

JEL Classification: D72, J45, J71

Suggested Citation

King, Amy and Leigh, Andrew, Beautiful Politicians (January 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=961138 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.961138

Amy King

University of South Australia ( email )

37-44 North Terrace, City West Campus
Adelaide, South Australia 5001
Australia

Andrew Leigh (Contact Author)

Australian National University - Economics Program, Research School of Social Sciences ( email )

HC Coombs Building
Australian National University
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia
+61261251374 (Phone)
+61261250182 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://econrsss.anu.edu.au/~aleigh/

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