At the Intersection of Gender and Class: How Were New Women Voters Mobilized?

Political development scholars document the importance of organized women's networks for women's electoral participation upon enfranchisement, but by doing so, overwhelmingly focus on the experiences of upper and middle-class women. In this paper, we uncover an alternative channel through which working-class women acquired information and civic attitudes: politicized local networks. We argue that working-class women had fewer opportunities to establish external social networks via outside employment like working-class men and via voluntary associations like privileged women. Utilizing an original dataset of individual voting records in a mid-sized industrial city during the interwar period in Sweden, we employ a difference-in-differences design that isolates neighbor effects from confounders at the individual level. Consistent with our argument, we find that class homogeneity of one's neighbors enhanced working-class women's -- but not necessarily men's or upper and middle-class women's -- decision to vote for at least a decade after suffrage.

This paper is the first of a series of papers that explore women's electoral participation in Sweden.

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