Working Paper No. 1034

The Glass Ceiling in Politics: Formalization and Empirical Tests

Published: August 12, 2014Pages: 66Keywords: Glass ceiling; Political careers; Subnational politics; Women and politics; Supply of politicians; Gender inequality; Racial inequalityJEL-codes: J45; J16; J21; H10
Published version

The Glass Ceiling in Politics: Formalization and Empirical Tests Olle Folke and Johanna Rickne


There is a scarcity of women and minorities at the apex of political power. This paper formalizes the concept of the glass ceiling for political organizations and builds on previous research to suggest four testable criteria. A glass ceiling exists if women and/or racial minorities (1) are discriminated against in the organization’s promotion process and (2) the discrimination increases in severity for the top levels of power and over an individual’s career trajectory.

We suggest a series of empirical tests for this phenomenon and apply them to longitudinal data on Swedish politicians. Results show that women face a glass ceiling, while minorities’ career disadvantages are more severe at the earlier career steps (a "sticky floor").

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Social Capital and Health

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Martin Ljunge, IFN, is the author of a chapter, "Trust promotes health: addressing reverse causality by studying children of immigrants", in a new book edited by Sherman Folland and Eric Nauenberg. The cutting edge of research is presented, covering the ever-expanding social capital field.

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