Mobilizing the underrepresented: electoral institutions and gender inequality in political participation
To study the political mobilization of underrepresented groups, this paper examines the effect of electoral systems on gender inequality in voting. Theoretically, I argue that PR gives party elites greater incentives to mobilize women to vote, yet they need women’s networks and organizations to succeed with such mobilizing efforts. Empirically, I isolate the causal effect of PR by studying an imposed shift from plurality to PR in Norwegian municipalities. Using a difference-in-differences design, I estimate that the move from plurality to PR decreased gender inequality in voting by about 35 percent. The effect is more pronounced where women’s networks are present. This study suggests that institutional reforms can promote the electoral participation of politically marginalized groups.