Women want an answer! Field experiments on elected officials and gender bias

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November 6, 2020

Women want an answer! Field experiments on elected officials and gender bias

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Are elected officials more responsive to men than women inquiring about access to government services? Women face discrimination in many realms of politics, but evidence is limited on whether such discrimination extends to interactions between women and elected officials. In recent years, several field experiments have examined public officials’ responsiveness. The majority focused on racial bias in the USA, while the few experiments outside the USA were usually single-country studies. We explore gender bias with the first large-scale audit experiment in five countries in Europe (France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Netherlands) and six in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay). A citizen alias whose gender is randomized contacts members of parliament about unemployment benefits or healthcare services. The results are surprising. Legislators respond significantly more to women (+3% points), especially in Europe (+4.3% points). In Europe, female legislators in particular reply substantially more to women (+8.4% points).

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