Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Effect of Electing Women on Future Female Candidate Selection Patterns: Findings from a Regression Discontinuity Design

  • Michael Jankowski (a1), Kamil Marcinkiewicz (a1) and Anna Gwiazda (a2)


In this article, we address the question of how electing women to national or subnational parliaments affects future female candidate selection in an open-list proportional representation system, using the example of Poland. We consider three potential effects of electing a woman. First, based on existing theories of the incumbency advantage, elected women should have higher chances of reselection and reelection in future elections (incumbency effect). Second, as a result of becoming more powerful within their party, elected women might have a stronger influence on future list composition, and thus more women should run for office on these lists (empowerment effect). Finally, we argue that other parties might adjust their candidate selection patterns in response to the election of women on other party lists (contagion effect). We find strong evidence for the incumbency effect and some support for the contagion effect. The empowerment hypothesis, however, finds no empirical support.



Hide All

We are grateful to three anonymous reviewers of Politics & Gender; to Sarah Dingler, Florian Foos, and Corinna Kroeber; and to the audience of the panel “Electoral Systems and Women's Representation” at the European Consortium for Political Research General Conference 2018 in Hamburg for providing extremely helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. The usual disclaimer applies.



Hide All
Allik, Mirjam. 2015. “Who Stands in the Way of Women? Open vs. Closed Lists and Candidate Gender in Estonia.” East European Politics 31 (4): 429–51.
Angrist, Joshua D., and Pischke, Jörn-Steffen. 2008. Mostly Harmless Econometrics: An Empiricist's Companion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Baer, Denise. 1993. “Political Parties: The Missing Variable in Women and Politics Research.” Political Research Quarterly 46 (3): 547–76.
Bhalotra, Sonia, Clots-Figueras, Irma, and Iyer, Lakshmi. 2018. “Pathbreakers? Women's Electoral Success and Future Political Participation.” Economic Journal 128 (613): 1844–78.
Bhavnani, Rikhil. 2009. “Do Electoral Quotas Work after They Are Withdrawn? Evidence from a Natural Experiment in India.” American Political Science Review 103 (1): 2335.
Broockman, David. 2014. “Do Female Politicians Empower Women to Vote or Run for Office? A Regression Discontinuity Approach.” Electoral Studies 34: 190204.
Calonico, Sebastian, Cattaneo, Matias D., and Titiunik, Rocio. 2014. “Robust Nonparametric Confidence Intervals for Regression-Discontinuity Designs.” Econometrica 82 (6): 22952326.
Calonico, Sebastian, Cattaneo, Matias D., and Titiunik, Rocio. 2015. “Optimal Data-Driven Regression Discontinuity Plots.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 110 (512): 1753–69.
Cattaneo, Matias D., Jansson, Michael, and Ma, Xinwei. 2017. “Simple Local Regression Distribution Estimators,” Working Paper, September 27. (accessed February 6, 2019).
Cattaneo, Matias D., and Vazquez-Bare, Gonzalo. 2016. “The Choice of Neighborhood in Regression Discontinuity Designs.” Observational Studies 2: 134–46.
Caughey, Devin, and Sekhon, Jasjeet S.. 2011. “Elections and the Regression Discontinuity Design: Lessons from Close U.S. House Races, 1942–2008.” Political Analysis 19 (4): 385408.
Chiva, Cristina. 2017. Gender, Institutions and Political Representation: Reproducing Male Dominance in Europe's New Democracies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dahlgaard, Jens. 2016. “You Just Made It: Individual Incumbency Advantage under Proportional Representation.” Electoral Studies 44: 319–28.
de la Cuesta, Brandon, and Imai, Kosuke. 2016. “Misunderstandings about the Regression Discontinuity Design in the Study of Close Elections.” Annual Review of Political Science 19: 375–96.
Dubrow, Joshua. 2017. “East European Parliamentarian and Candidate Data (EAST PaC), 1985–2015.” Version 2.0. Funded by Poland's National Science Centre (Decision no. 2012/05/E/HS6/03556).
Faas, Thorsten, and Schoen, Harald. 2006. “The Importance of Being First: Effects of Candidates’ List Positions in the 2003 Bavarian State Election.” Electoral Studies 25 (1): 91102.
Fiva, Jon H., and Røhr, Helene Lie. 2018. “Climbing the Ranks: Incumbency Effects in Party-List Systems.” European Economic Review 101(C): 142–56.
Folke, Olle, Persson, Torsten, and Rickne, Johanna. 2016. “The Primary Effect: Preference Votes and Political Promotions.” American Political Science Review 110 (3): 559–78.
Foos, Florian, and Gilardi, Fabrizio. 2017. “Role Models Can Decrease Women's Political Ambition.” Working Paper, January 14. (accessed February 7, 2019).
Fox, Richard L., and Lawless, Jennifer L.. 2004. “Entering the Arena? Gender and the Decision to Run for Office.” Americal Journal of Political Science 48 (2): 264–80.
Gallagher, Michael, and Marsh, Michael, eds. 1988. Candidate Selection in Comparative Perspective: The Secret Garden of Politics. London: Sage.
Gelman, Andrew, and King, Gary. 1990. “Estimating Incumbency Advantage without Bias.” American Journal of Political Science 34 (4): 1142–64.
Gilardi, Fabrizio. 2015. “The Temporary Importance of Role Models for Women's Political Representation.” American Journal of Political Science 59 (4): 957–70.
Górecki, Maciej, and Kukołowicz, Paula. 2014. “Gender Quotas, Candidate Background and the Election of Women: A Paradox of Gender Quotas in Open-List Proportional Representation Systems.” Elecotral Studies 36: 6580.
Górecki, Maciej, and Kukołowicz, Paula. 2018. “Electoral Formula, Legal Threshold and the Number of Parties: A Natural Experiment.” Party Politics 24 (6): 617–28.
Gwiazda, Anna. 2015. “Women's Representation and Gender Quotas: the Case of the Polish Parliament.” Democratization 22 (4): 679–97.
Gwiazda, Anna. 2017. “Women in Parliament: Assessing the Effectiveness of Gender Quotas in Poland.” Journal of Legislative Studies 23 (3): 326–47.
Imbens, Guido, and Kalyanaraman, Karthik. 2012. “Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator.” Review of Economic Studies 79 (3): 933–59.
Jankowski, Michael, and Marcinkiewicz, Kamil. 2018. “Are Populist Parties Fostering Women's Political Representation in Poland? A Comment on Kostadinova and Mikulska.” Party Politics 24 (2): 185–96.
Jankowski, Michael, and Marcinkiewicz, Kamil. 2019. “Ineffective and Counterproductive? The Impact of Gender Quotas in Open-List Proportional Representation Systems.” Politics & Gender 15 (1): XXXXXX.
Keele, Luke. 2015. “The Statistics of Causal Inference. A View from Political Methodology.” Political Analysis 23 (3): 313–35.
Lee, David. 2008. “Randomized Experiments from Non-random Selection in U.S. House Elections.” Journal of Econometrics 142 (2): 675–97.
Lee, David, and Lemieux, Thomas. 2010. “Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics.” Journal of Economic Literature 48 (2): 281355.
Lovenduski, Joni. 2016. “The Supply and Demand Model of Candidate Selection: Some Reflection.” Government and Opposition 51 (3): 513–28.
Mansbridge, Jane. 1999. “Should Blacks Represent Blacks and Women Represent Women? A Contingent ‘Yes.’Journal of Politics 61 (3): 628–57.
Marcinkiewicz, Kamil. 2014. “Electoral Contexts That Assist Voter Coordination: Ballot Position Effects in Poland.” Electoral Studies 33 (1): 322–34.
Marcinkiewicz, Kamil, and Stegmaier, Mary. 2015. “Ballot Position Effects under Compulsory and Optional Preferential-List PR Electoral Systems.” Political Behavior 37 (2): 465–86.
Matland, Richard, and Studlar, Donley. 1996. “The Contagion of Women Candidates in Single-Member District and Proportional Representation Electoral Systems: Canada and Norway.” Journal of Politics 58 (3): 707–33.
McCrary, Justin. 2008. “Manipulation of the Running Variable in the Regression Discontinuity Design: A Density Test.” Journal of Econometrics 142 (2): 698714.
McGregor, R. Michael, Moore, Aaron, Jackson, Samantha, Bird, Karen, and Stephenson, Laura B.. 2017. “Why So Few Women and Minorities in Local Politics? Incumbency and Affinity Voting in Low Information Elections.” Representation 53 (2): 135–52.
Norris, Pippa, and Lovenduski, Joni. 1995. Political Recruitment: Gender, Race, and Class in the British Parliament. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Phillips, Anne. 1995. The Politics of Presence. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Pitkin, Hanna Fenichel. 1967. The Concept of Representation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Ranney, Austin. 1981. “Candidate Selection.” In Democracy at the Polls: A Comparative Study of Competitive National Elections, eds. Butler, David, Penniman, Howard R., and Ranney, Austin. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute, 75106.
Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie A. 2005. “The Incumbency Disadvantage and Women's Election to Legislative Office.” Electoral Studies 24 (2): 227–44.
Shair-Rosenfield, Sarah, and Hinojosa, Magda. 2014. “Does Female Incumbency Reduce Gender Bias in Elections? Evidence from Chile.” Political Research Quarterly 67 (4): 837–50.
Shugart, Matthew Søberg. 2005. “Comparative Electoral Systems Research: The Maturation of a Field and New Challenges Ahead.” In The Politics of Electoral Systems, eds. Gallagher, Michael and Mitchell, Paul. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 327.
Wolak, Jennifer. 2015. “Candidate Gender and the Political Engagement of Women and Men.” American Politics Research 43 (5): 872–96.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Jankowski et al. supplementary material
Online Appendix

 Word (247 KB)
247 KB

The Effect of Electing Women on Future Female Candidate Selection Patterns: Findings from a Regression Discontinuity Design

  • Michael Jankowski (a1), Kamil Marcinkiewicz (a1) and Anna Gwiazda (a2)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed