Date of Thesis

Spring 2018

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

Major

Political Science

Second Major

English

First Advisor

Douglas Hecock

Keywords

women in government, gender, politics, Chile, Argentina

Abstract

This paper explores the effects of women’s legislative representation on socio-economic development. While the literature has outlined the theoretical arguments around increasing women’s representation as a means of reducing gender inequality, little work has been done to examine how these arguments play out, in practice. Therefore, this thesis explores the theory behind women’s representation, performs a statistical analysis of the effect it has on substantive outcomes, and provides case studies to determine the exact nature of the link between representation and development. While the literature claims that women’s representation should promote development, and though I make many attempts to be as exhaustive as possible, my statistical analysis shows very little support for the hypothesis that women in government translate into improvements in the lives of women. To address some of the gaps within my statistical analysis, especially endogeneity and omitted variable bias, I examine the case studies, Chile and Argentina. They reveal several confounding factors, including women’s support within the executive and legislative branches, the strength of women’s movements, and the varying effects of legislative gender quotas. All point to the need for scholars and policymakers to focus on the barriers that prevent women in government from enacting their policy preferences. Further research should consider other variables, as well as examine the challenges facing other underrepresented groups.

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