How Electing Women Helps You Save Money

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In the United States, most of us are probably still recovering from election fatigue after the presidential contest that culminated in November. For political junkies, however, it's never a bad time to think about who's in the running and who's jockeying for power. Lots of organizations exist dedicated to getting underrepresented groups into office, but consumers might want to think about joining in.

A new study from Rice University has something interesting to share about the so-called pink tax. It's a real phenomenon: Items that are functionally identical to "normal" or "men's" products (razors, gym socks, you name it) are sold at higher prices if they're marketed toward women. (That's in addition to the thousands of extra dollars people who menstruate spend on period-related products.) When those products or their component parts are imported, there's a price difference related to gender 40 percent of the time.

The Rice researchers looked at this pattern around the world and discovered something notable: Countries with more women in elected office had a lower pink tax. Imported goods were priced more equally, and those savings were passed on to wholesalers, retailers, and finally consumers. The initial difference in price is about .7 percent, but it can snowball, as anyone who's ever tried to buy deodorant or body wash can tell you.

On average, legislatures in the world's democracies are about one-quarter female, which holds true in the United States. We've got some work to do to correct that, for any number of reasons — one of which, sure, might be equalizing the power of the purse.