A growing theoretical literature on the effect of politicians' salaries on the average level of skills of political candidates yields ambiguous predictions. In this paper, we estimate the effect of pay for politicians on the level of education of parliamentary candidates. We take advantage of an exceptional reform where the salaries of Finnish MPs were increased by 35 % in the year 2000, intended to make the pay for parliamentarians more competitive. A difference-in-differences analysis, using candidates in municipal elections as a control group, suggests that the higher salary increased the fraction of candidates with higher education among female candidates, while we find no significant effect for male candidates.
pay for politicians candidate selection gender differences in politics