Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-7l5rh Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-24T22:30:07.869Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Gender and Family Ties in Latin American Legislatures

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 October 2020

Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer
Rice University
Agustín Vallejo
University of Houston
Francisco Cantú
University of Houston


Are women disproportionately more likely than men to have family ties in politics? We study this question in Latin America, where legacies have been historically common, and we focus specifically on legislatures, where women's representation has increased dramatically in many countries. We hypothesize that, counter to conventional wisdom, women should be no more likely than men to have ties to political families. However, this may vary across legislatures with and without gender quotas. Our empirical analysis uses data from the Parliamentary Elites of Latin America survey. We find more gender similarities than differences in legislators’ patterns of family ties both today and over the past 20 years. We also find that women are more likely to have family ties than men in legislatures without gender quotas, whereas this difference disappears in legislatures with quotas.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association.

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


We are grateful to Justin Esarey, Matthew Hayes, Melissa Marschall, Dan Smith, participants at the 2017 conferences of the Sociedad Argentina de Análisis Político (SAAP) and American Political Science Association, and the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments and suggestions on previous drafts of this manuscript. We also thank the editors at Politics & Gender for supporting this manuscript through to publication.



Baldez, Lisa. 2004. “Elected Bodies: The Gender Quota Law for Legislative Candidates in Mexico.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 29 (2): 231–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Baturo, Alexander, and Gray, Julia. 2018. “When Do Family Ties Matter? The Duration of Female Suffrage and Women's Path to High Political Office.” Political Research Quarterly 71 (3): 695709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Beer, Caroline C., and Camp, Roderic Ai. 2016. “Democracy, Gender Quotas, and Political Recruitment in Mexico.” Politics, Groups, and Identities 4 (2): 179–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bruhn, Kathleen. 2003. “Whores and Lesbians: Political Activism, Party Strategies, and Gender Quotas in Mexico.” Electoral Studies 22 (2): 101–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Camp, Roderic A. 1982. “Family Relationships in Mexican Politics: A Preliminary View.” Journal of Politics 44 (3): 848–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Camp, Roderic A. 1995. Political Recruitment across Two Centuries: Mexico, 1884–1991. Austin: University of Texas Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chaney, Elsa M. 1979. Supermadre: Women in Politics in Latin America. Austin: University of Texas Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clubok, Alfred B., Wilensky, Norman M., and Berghorn, Forrest J.. 1969. “Family Relationships, Congressional Recruitment, and Political Modernization.” Journal of Politics 31 (4): 1035–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dahlerup, Drude, and Freidenvall, Lenita. 2005. “Quotas as a ‘Fast Track’ to Equal Representation for Women.” International Feminist Journal of Politics 7 (1): 2648.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dahlerup, Drude, Hilal, Zeina, Kalandadze, Nana, and Kandawasvika-Nhundu, Rumbidzai. 2013. “Atlas of Electoral Gender Quotas.” International IDEA, Inter-Parliamentary Union, and Stockholm University. (accessed August 29, 2020).Google Scholar
Dal Bó, Ernesto, , Pedro Dal, and Snyder, Jason. 2009. “Political Dynasties.” Review of Economic Studies 76 (1): 115–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Escobar-Lemmon, Maria C., and Taylor-Robinson, Michelle M., eds. 2014. Representation: The Case of Women. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Escobar-Lemmon, Maria C., and Taylor-Robinson, Michelle M.. 2016. Women in Presidential Cabinets: Power Players or Abundant Tokens? New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Feinstein, Brian D. 2010. “The Dynasty Advantage: Family Ties in Congressional Elections.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 35 (4): 571–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Folke, Olle, Rickne, Johanna, and Smith, Daniel M.. 2020. “Gender and Dynastic Political Selection.” Comparative Political Studies. Published online July 3. Scholar
Freidenberg, Flavia. 2019. “La representación política de las mujeres en Honduras: resistencias partidistas y propuestas de reformas inclusivas en perspectiva comparada.” Carter Center, August 29. (accessed August 17, 2020).Google Scholar
Geys, Benny, and Smith, Daniel M.. 2017. “Political Dynasties in Democracies: Causes, Consequences, and Remaining Puzzles.” Economic Journal 127 (605): F446–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hinojosa, Magda. 2012. Selecting Women, Electing Women: Political Representation and Candidate Selection in Latin America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
Infobae. 2017. “El Cupo Feminino Lleno de ‘Esposas de’ las Listas para las Legislativas.” June 26. (accessed September 8, 2020).Google Scholar
Jalalzai, Farida. 2004. “Women Political Leaders: Past and Present.” Women & Politics 26 (3–4): 85108.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jalalzai, Farida. 2012. Shattered, Cracked, or Firmly Intact? Women and the Executive Glass Ceiling Worldwide. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Jalalzai, Farida. 2015. Women Presidents of Latin America: Beyond Family Ties? New York: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jalalzai, Farida, and Krook, Mona Lena. 2010. “Beyond Hillary and Benazir: Women's Political Leadership Worldwide.” International Political Science Review 31 (1): 521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Krook, Mona Lena. 2009. Quotas for Women in Politics: Gender and Candidate Selection Reform Worldwide. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Morgan, Jana. 2015. “Gender and the Latin American Voter.” In The Latin American Voter: Pursuing Representation and Accountability in Challenging Contexts, eds. Carlin, Ryan E., Singer, Matthew M., and Zechmeister, Elizabeth J.. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 143–67.Google Scholar
Morgan, Jana, and Buice, Melissa. 2013. “Latin American Attitudes toward Women in Politics: The Influence of Elite Cues, Female Advancement, and Individual Characteristics.” American Political Science Review 107 (4): 644–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Morgan, Jana, and Hinojosa, Magda. 2018. “Women in Political Parties: Seen but Not Heard.” In Gender and Representation in Latin America, ed. Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie A.. New York: Oxford University Press, 7498.Google Scholar
Murray, Rainbow, ed. 2010. Cracking the Highest Glass Ceiling: A Global Comparison of Women's Campaigns for Executive Office. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.Google Scholar
Piscopo, Jennifer M. 2015. “States as Gender Equality Activists: The Evolution of Quota Laws in Latin America.” Latin American Politics and Society 57 (3): 2749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Purdey, Jemma. 2016. “Political Families in Southeast Asia.” South East Asia Research 24 (3): 319–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Querubin, Pablo. 2016. “Family and Politics: Dynastic Persistence in the Philippines.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 11 (2): 151–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Reyes-Housholder, Catherine, and Thomas, Gwynn. 2018. “Latin America's Presidentas: Overcoming Challenges, Forging New Pathways.” In Gender and Representation in Latin America, ed. Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie A.. New York: Oxford University Press, 1938.Google Scholar
Roson, Martínez, del Mar, María. 2008. “Legislative Careers: Does Quality Matter?” In Politicians and Politics in Latin America, ed. Alcántara Sáez, M.. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 235–64.Google Scholar
Saint-Germain, Michelle A., and Metoyer, Cynthia Chavez. 2008. Women Legislators in Central America: Politics, Democracy, and Policy. Austin: University of Texas Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie A. 2010. Political Power and Women's Representation in Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie A. 2011. “Women Who Win: Social Backgrounds, Paths to Power, and Political Ambition in Latin American Legislatures.” Politics & Gender 7 (1): 133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schwindt-Bayer, Leslie A, ed. 2018. Gender and Representation in Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skard, Torild. 2015. Women of Power: Half a Century of Female Presidents and Prime Ministers Worldwide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
Smith, Daniel M. 2018. Dynasties and Democracy: The Inherited Incumbency Advantage and Institutional Reform in Japan. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
Smith, Daniel M., and Martin, Shane. 2017. “Political Dynasties and the Selection of Cabinet Ministers.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 42 (1): 131–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Taylor-Robinson, Michelle M. 2007. “Presidential and Congressional Elections in Honduras, November 2005.” Electoral Studies 26 (2): 507–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
van Coppenolle, Brenda. 2017. “Political Dynasties in the UK House of Commons: The Null Effect of Narrow Electoral Selection.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 42 (3): 449–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zetterberg, Pär. 2008. “The Downside of Gender Quotas? Institutional Constraints on Women in Mexican State Legislatures.” Parliamentary Affairs 61 (3): 442–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Supplementary material: File

Schwindt-Bayer et al. supplementary material

Online Appendix

Download Schwindt-Bayer et al. supplementary material(File)
File 4 MB