In this paper, I analyze the voting outcomes of two very similar Swiss referendum ballots concerning the federal government's competency to levy income, capital and turnover taxes to find out how the enfranchisement of women influences public support for government spending. The first ballot took place shortly before the extension of suffrage to women in February 1971, and the other shortly thereafter. I estimate the impact of introducing female voting on the difference in acceptance rates for the two propositions. Surprisingly, I find that approval for government spending is higher among the male population. I provide additional evidence from post-ballot surveys after similar ballots to overcome potential strategic voting problems which cannot be answered by analyzing aggregate data. My results suggest rethinking the notion that female suffrage caused public spending to increase.
female suffrage gender preference gaps voting direct democracy