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There is no dispute that women are grossly under-represented in the world's legislatures. However, there are several explanations for this under-representation and for the variation that exists between regions and between countries. The prevailing literature points to institutional, developmental, and cultural variables. This study uses the post-communist context in order to control for aspects of culture and current altitudes associated with the legacy of communism. Given the common experience of state socialism and the re-traditionalization of social values associated with a backlash against directive emancipation, culture cannot be the main factor in determining the wide variation in levels of female legislative representation in the new democracies of East-Central Europe. In testing for both institutional variations and levels of modernity, this study suggests that socioeconomic development explains variation across the region while institutions explain variations within countries over time. Furthermore, low socioeconomic development may place a ceiling on the extent to which "woman-friendly" institutions can increase female representation.


Political Science