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Women’s Descriptive Representation and Gendered Import Tax Discrimination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 October 2020

TIMM BETZ*
Affiliation:
Technical University of Munich
DAVID FORTUNATO*
Affiliation:
University of California, San Diego
DIANA Z. O’BRIEN*
Affiliation:
Rice University
*
Timm Betz, Assistant Professor, School of Governance, Bavarian School of Public Policy, Technical University of Munich, timm.betz@tum.de.
David Fortunato, Associate Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego, Copenhagen Business School, dfortunato@ucsd.edu.
Diana Z. O’Brien, Albert Thomas Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Rice University, dzobrien@rice.edu.

Abstract

We identify a form of gender-based governmental discrimination that directly affects billions of women on a daily basis: the setting of import tariffs for gendered goods. These tax rates, which can differ across otherwise identical gender-specific products, often impose direct penalties on women as consumers. Comparing nearly 200,000 paired tariff rates on men’s and women’s apparel products in 167 countries between 1995 and 2015, we find that women suffer a tax penalty that varies systematically across countries. We demonstrate that in democracies, women’s presence in the legislature is associated with decreased import tax penalties on women’s goods. This finding is buttressed by a comparison of democracies and non-democracies and analyses of the implementation of legislative gender quotas. Our work highlights a previously unacknowledged government policy that penalizes women and also provides powerful evidence that descriptive representation can have a substantial, direct impact on discriminatory policies.

Type
Letter
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association

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Footnotes

An earlier draft of this work was presented at the 2019 European Political Science Association Conference. We would like to thank our discussant, Martin Hansen, as well as our fellow panelists and audience members for their useful feedback. We would also like to acknowledge Kaitlin Senk, Keigo Tanabe, and Anne Fortunato for their research assistance. Finally, we are grateful to the three anonymous reviewers at the American Political Science Review, whose thoughtful feedback improved this work immensely, as well as to editors Ben Lauderdale and Denise Walsh for shepherding the manuscript through the review process. Replication materials can be found at: https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/UM0ZOF.

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