Women's Representation in National Legislatures: Developed and Developing Countries
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXIII:109-125

This note expands research on representation of women in national legislatures. Existing models are tested on newer data in advanced industrialized democracies, and these models are then applied to a sample of democracies in developing countries. There are striking differences across the two samples. While a proportional representation electoral system, women's participation in the labor force, the cultural standing of women, and the country's level of development all have positive effects on female representation in OECD democracies, none of these variables have a statistically significant and positive effect in less developed countries. These findings strongly suggest the existence of a threshold. Only after that threshold is passed do proportional representation, labor force participation, and cultural standing exert positive influences on the representation of women.

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