Mobilizing the Underrepresented: Electoral Systems and Gender Inequality in Political Participation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAmerican Journal of Political Science (AJPS). 2021, . 10.1111/ajps.12654
To study the political mobilization of underrepresented groups, this article examines the effect of electoral systems on gender equality in voting. Theoretically, I argue that replacing a plurality electoral system with proportional representation (PR) gives party elites greater incentives to mobilize women to vote in all but the most competitive districts under plurality rule. Yet, they need to tap into women's networks 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 substantially decreased gender inequality in voting. The effect is most pronounced in previously uncompetitive municipalities and where women's networks are present. This study thus demonstrates how the social environment conditions the effect of democratic institutions on the political participation of marginalized groups.