The Gender-Governance Link: Gender Equality and Public Goods Provisions

This project combines empirical perspectives in political science, gender studies, and economics to contribute to the emerging literature on the linkages between gender equality and good governance across the globe and over time. This literature has established strong linkages between various aspects of gender equality and good governance. To give just a few examples, nations’ levels of female education have been linked to economic growth, and the higher value citizens attach to gender equality has been linked to nations’ democratic accountability. However, while the literature on links between one aspect of gender equality and one aspect of good governance is growing, there is so far no integrated approach that takes a comprehensive look at the gender equality – good governance link.

For the following reasons this is a serious omission. Gender equality is a varied, multifaceted process that develops through both top-down and bottom-up processes; progress in one aspect of gender equality does not imply progress in others. Good governance is similarly manifold as the process of political rule through which public goods and services are provided and regulated. Thus, limiting investigation to just one type of equality and one type of public good prevents a deeper investigation into global gender-governance patterns. More limited approaches cannot examine how various aspects of gender equality interact to improve governance, or determine the relative weight of the influence of different equality factors on different public goods provisions. This obscures an understanding of the dominant paths of influence between improvements in gender equality and public goods provisions.

The project is also unique in its theory-inspired empirical approach to the question of the gender equality-good governance link. This will be the first collaboration of its kind to conceptualize, measure, and examine the gender-governance nexus from an encompassing, global and longitudinal perspective. More specifically, the project will be the first to comprehensively model the empirical relationship between both top-down and bottom-up approaches to gender equality and public goods provisions across the globe and over time. As envisaged in the table  (right), the project leaders Amy Alexander (University of Gothenburg), Stephan Klasen (University of Göttingen) and Christian Welzel (Leuphana University of Lüneburg) will conceptualize and measure engendered institutions in a top-down approach to gender equality, de-gendered capability in a bottom-up approach to gender equality, and good governance in an approach to public goods provisions. In so doing, the researchers will use the grant from the Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony to start a larger research program on the gender equality-good governance link from a global, empirical perspective.