Electoral system effects on women's representation - Theoretical arguments and evidence from Costa Rica Academic Article uri icon


  • This study considers the effects of electoral system structure on women's representation in national legislatures. Research done in Western Europe finds women's representation is positively affected by party magnitude; tests for similar effects in Costa Rica are done and confirm this hypothesis. The effects of electoral thresholds are also considered. The Costa Rican electoral threshold increases disproportionality and enhances the likelihood of producing parliamentary majorities, as expected. Moving beyond these traditional findings, the threshold also has a positive effect on the descriptive representativeness of the legislature by increasing party magnitudes and thereby increasing the representation of women. The study ends by suggesting the electoral studies field needs to expand its evaluation criteria to not only consider representativeness in terms of reflecting party support, but also consider representativeness in terms of accurately mirroring society at large, that is, descriptive representation.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Matland, R. E., & Taylor, M. M.

citation count

  • 112

complete list of authors

  • Matland, RE||Taylor, MM

publication date

  • January 1997