Gender Differences in Campaigning under Alternative Voting Systems: Evidence from a Quantitative Text Analysis of Election Manifestos in Japan

         
Author Name ONO Yoshikuni (Faculty Fellow, RIETI) / MIWA Hirofumi (Gakushuin University)
Creation Date/NO. April 2020 20-E-034
Research Project Research on Political Behavior and Decision Making: Searching for evidence-based solutions to political challenges in the economy and industry
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Abstract

We evaluate an important question in the growing literature on women's substantive representation – whether gender differences in candidate issue engagement are robust to institutional environments that encourage policy convergence and "median-voter" chasing. While a growing body of evidence from American- and comparative politics reveals that gender does play a role in voters' evaluations of candidates, long-standing spatial theories and recent empirical work suggest that such candidate differences should disappear in the face of strategic incentives inherent to single-member district races – thereby limiting the potential for a descriptive-substantive link in women's representation. We address this question by leveraging the case of Japan, which allows us to analyze gender differences both before and after a major electoral reform that effected well documented changes in the nature of campaigning. Owing to the consistent and widespread use of candidate manifestos in Japanese elections, the case also enables us to more comprehensively and reliably measure candidate issue engagement than has typically been done in the representation literature. Using recently pioneered methodologies in probabilistic topic modeling on an analysis of over 20 years of general election manifestos, we find significant differences in the issues that male and female candidates use to present themselves to constituents regardless of party affiliation and other attributes. Moreover, we find that these differences remain salient even after the wholesale change from a multi-member district to a single-member district electoral system.