Selina Hofstetter - Making Suffrage Work: The impact of female suffrage in different environments

Mon, Jan 11 2021, 11:30am - 12:30pm

I exploit quasi-random local franchise extensions to Swiss women in the late 20th century to empirically identify the political impact of female suffrage in different contexts. First, I analyze municipalities with a male majority in favor of women’s vote and ones with a majority against it. I further study municipalities with a parliament versus direct-democratic assemblies. My findings show that female suffrage caused a right-wing effect in municipal party vote shares and expenditure. However, municipalities that favored female suffrage moved more center-right than right, and experienced a lower drop in electoral turnout. Municipalities with a parliament instead of an assembly making budget decisions, experienced an increase instead of a drop in expenditure. I complement my findings with a national election survey from 1972 to show that the effects might be driven by differences in women’s political interest.


I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University’s Democracy & Polarization Lab. I hold a Ph.D. in Political Science from the London School of Economics (LSE). My research analyses the performance of democratic institutions with a focus on women.

I use empirical quantitative methods with a focus on causal inference, but I am also familiar with game theory and very interested in co-authoring with formal theorists. For my dissertation on the introduction of local female suffrage in Switzerland, I collected and coded an unique historical dataset at the Swiss municipality level between 1940-1990. To complete this, I received support from the Baroness Birk Award and the STICERD Ph.D. Grant.

From March until June 2020, I visited Uppsala University. From September 2019 until March 2020, I was a visiting researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. I attended the EITM Summer Institute at Emory University in 2019 and the Zurich Summer School for Women in Political Methodology in 2017.