Female voting power: the contribution of women’s suffrage to the growth of social spending in Western Europe (1869–1960)

Abstract

Women’s suffrage was a major event in the history of democratization in Western Europe and elsewhere. Public choice theory predicts that the demand for publicly funded social spending is systematically higher where women have and use the right to vote. Using historical data from six Western European countries for the period 1869–1960, we provide evidence that social spending out of GDP increased by 0.6–1.2% in the short-run as a consequence of women’s suffrage, while the long-run effect is three to eight times larger. We also explore a number of other public finance implications of the gender gap.

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Correspondence to Toke S. Aidt.

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Aidt, T.S., Dallal, B. Female voting power: the contribution of women’s suffrage to the growth of social spending in Western Europe (1869–1960). Public Choice 134, 391–417 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11127-007-9234-1

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Keywords

  • Women’s suffrage
  • Gender gap
  • Social spending
  • Public finance
  • Growth in government
  • Extension of the franchise

JEL

  • D7
  • H1