Can the descriptive-substantive link survive beyond democracy? The policy impact of women representatives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


That women offer substantive representation in democratic systems is well established. However, can they do so in partial or non-democracies? As less than half of the women in the world live in democracies, analysing female representation outside of the democratic context is crucial. We hypothesize that even in non- and partial-democracies, women exercise substantive representation. Neutralizing the confounding effects of international constraints or a general positive approach towards gender equality, we create a framework that observes the relationship, proposing and testing several scenarios to identify substantive representation. We observe correlations over time between the share of women representatives and policies female representation typically influence: reproductive rights, health spending and education spending. Our evidence shows that substantive representation appears in non- and partial democracies, and not just in democracies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1513-1533
Number of pages21
Issue number8
StatePublished - 17 Nov 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • mechanisms of representation
  • political inclusion
  • political representation
  • reproductive rights
  • women leadership
  • women’s representation
  • women’s rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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