, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 559–586 | Cite as

Women, Demography, and Politics: How Lower Fertility Rates Lead to Democracy

  • Udi SommerEmail author


Where connections between demography and politics are examined in the literature, it is largely in the context of the effects of male aspects of demography on phenomena such as political violence. This project aims to place the study of demographic variables’ influence on politics, particularly on democracy, squarely within the scope of political and social sciences, and to focus on the effects of woman-related demographics—namely, fertility rate. I test the hypothesis that demographic variables—female-related predictors, in particular—have an independent effect on political structure. Comparing countries over time, this study finds a growth in democracy when fertility rates decline. In the theoretical framework developed, it is family structure as well as the economic and political status of women that account for this change at the macro and micro levels. Findings based on data for more than 140 countries over three decades are robust when controlling not only for alternative effects but also for reverse causality and data limitations.


Fertility rate Democracy Demography and politics Family structure 



I would like to thank the Israel Institute in Washington, DC; the Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies; and the Department of Political Science at Columbia University for their support. I thank Victor Asal, David Rousseau, Irene Guiter Mazer, and Greg Worley for their thoughts and comments in earlier stages of the development of this project.


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Copyright information

© Population Association of America 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceTel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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