Øyvind Skorge

Øyvind (Ovi) Skorge, Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

Proportional politics: electoral institutions and women's share of the vote in the early twentieth century

Working paper (current version August 2017)

Did proportional representation (PR) systems enhance women's inclusion in voting after the introduction of universal suffrage? Focusing exclusively on women's representation in parliaments and cabinets, the existing research has overlooked how electoral rules affect gender inequality in the votes cast. I argue that PR give party elites greater incentives to mobilize women to vote. Empirically, I study the effect of the imposed shift from plurality to PR in Norwegian municipalities in the early twentieth century. About half of the around 600 municipalities were already using PR, whereas the remaining municipalities were forced to replace plurality with PR before the 1919 election. Using a difference-in-difference design, I estimate that the move from plurality to PR increased women's share of the votes cast by about nine to ten percentage points. My study suggests that the design of electoral institutions plays a key role in promoting gender equality in political participation. PDF