Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden

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This paper presents a model of how political parties choose the composition of their lists, with regard to gender and competence, in competition with other parties under proportional representation. It then builds a unique data set with rich individual data on all politicial candidates, in all parties, in all Swedish municipalities, since 1988. The data show that the elected shares of women and competent men both increase with the quality of the party leadership, as our theory predicts.We investigate the effects of the “zipper” placement mandate unilaterally implemented by the Social Democratic party in 1993, and find that the quota raised (lowered) the competence of men in the municipalities relative to where the initial share of women was low (high).

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