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Faculty of Economics

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Lee, S-M.

Passing on the Baton: Positive Spillovers from the Olympics to Female Representation in US Politics


Abstract: Female representation in politics may be influenced by positive spillovers from the success of women in other professions. I exploit the timing of the Olympic games to isolate the spillover effect of female Olympic medallists on demand for female representation in US state elections a few months after the Olympics. I estimate that the female medals effect is around a 1 per cent increase in female candidate vote shares in the Olympian's state of birth. This is driven entirely by the 3.8 per cent increase for female Democrat candidates, exacerbating existing polarisation between parties. I do not find evidence of voters changing their attitudes about women in politics in response to female Olympic success, but find evidence consistent with female representation becoming a more important issue for Democrat voters. I estimate a 2.7 per cent decrease in female representation associated with the postponement of the 2020 Olympics.

Keywords: Female Representation, Political Representation, Elections, Gender Inequality, Sport

JEL Codes: D72 D91 J16

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