"Flipping the Gender Gap: Compulsory Voting and Inequality in Turnout"
CEE's General seminar
Sciences Po, 1 place Saint-Thomas d'Aquin, 75007 Paris
"Compulsory voting has long been hailed as an equalizer: by requiring that eligible citizens show up at the polls, compulsory regimes have higher turnout overall and are linked to better representation of all social groups among their electorates. We study the gendered impacts of compulsory voting in Chile, which moved from voluntary to mandatory registration under a compulsory regime in 1962. If compulsory rules jumpstart women's political participation, strengthening compulsory rules should enhance equality in turnout across the sexes. Using comprehensive municipal-level data of electoral returns, in which men's and women's turnout was tallied separately, and newly unearthed records of Chile's historical electoral registers, we show that mandating registration dramatically changed women's enrollment, and, remarkably, pushed women's turnout above men's. This finding challenges our understanding of the historical gender gap, showing that electoral institutions with strong participatory mandates can help women flip the gender gap in their favor."
Dawn Langan Teele is the SNF Agora Institute Associate Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. She is co-founder of EGEN: The Empirical Study of Gender Research Network. Her research, which has been published in the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, Daedalus, and other outlets, has focused on the ethics of field experiments, gender and publication in the social sciences, bias against women in politics, and the historical political economy of gender. Her 2018 book, Forging the Franchise: The Political Origins of the Women's Vote won the Luebbert Prize for the best book in Comparative Politics at the American Political Science Association.
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