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The looks of a winner: Beauty and electoral success

Niclas Berggren (), Henrik Jordahl () and Panu Poutvaara ()

Munich Reprints in Economics from University of Munich, Department of Economics

Abstract: We study the role of beauty in politics using candidate photos that figured prominently in electoral campaigns. Our investigation is based on visual assessments of 1929 Finnish political candidates from 10,011 respondents (of which 3708 were Finnish). As Finland has a proportional electoral system, we are able to compare the electoral success of non-incumbent candidates representing the same party. An increase in our measure of beauty by one standard deviation is associated with an increase of 20\% in the number of votes for the average non-incumbent parliamentary candidate. The relationship is unaffected by including education and occupation as control variables and withstands several other robustness checks.

Date: 2010
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Published in Journal of Public Economics 1-2 94(2010): pp. 8-15

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