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Bringing in the New Votes: Turnout of Women after Enfranchisement

Mona Morgan-Collins, American Political Science Review 

When does turnout of newly enfranchised women `catch up' with that of men? I argue that when women's cost of voting is higher than men's, women's turnout approaches parity with men's in localities with strong incentives to vote among the general population. This is because under the most favorable circumstances, even voters at the tail of the cost distribution - who are disproportinatately women - vote. I then propose that electoral competition determines the strength of voting and mobilization incentives and therefore the gender turnout gap. Using sex-separated turnout data after women's suffrage in Norway, I demonstrate that the gap narrows in high-turnout competitive districts in systems with single-member districts and in high-turnout within-district strongholds in proportional systems. I then probe generalizability of my findings in three additional countries. The paper demonstrate the complexity of achieving de facto political incorporation after de jure enfranchisement.

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