These days so many things get postponed… today I just managed to come home after some fresh air in the afternoon (it was my day “off” supposedly), made sure everyone had something to do, fire up the video chat application — to find that the online discussion has been postponed just minutes earlier. At least this gave me enough time to prepare dinner…

The Proportion of Women in National Parliament as a Measure of Women’s Status in Society

In 2009, I examined the proportion of women in national parliaments as a measure of women’s status in society. Apparently, we get link rot here, too.

Representation in decision-making (i.e. the share of women in national legislatures) is often used as an indicator of the wider integration of women in political and everyday life. This research note examines whether the proportion of women in national parliament really can be regarded as a measure of women’s status in society. I argue — based on correlations and a scatter plot — that the proportion of women in parliament is a reasonably good indicator of status, with the benefit of being based on readily available data.

Working paper: Ruedin 2009 Status Working Paper

Ruedin, Didier. 2009. ‘The Proportion of Women in National Parliament as a Measure of Women’s Status in Society’. Oxford Sociology Working Papers 2009-05.

How well do correspondence tests measure discrimination?

Correspondence tests are a useful field experiement to measure discrimination in the formal labour market. These correspondence tests are also known as CV experiements: Researchers send two equivalent applications to an employer, differening only in the quantity of interest — gender and ethnicity are common. If only the majority or male candidate is invited for a job interview, we probably have a case of discrimination. Once we aggreate across many employers, we’re pretty confident to have captured discrimination.

Most studies stop there, declining any offer to reduce the burden on employers. The hiring process, however, does not end there. Lincoln Quillian and his team have now compiled a list of studies that went further. They find that the first stage of screening is far from the end of discrimination, and the job interview can increase overall discrimination substantially. Correspondece tests focusing on the first stage will capture only some of the discrimination. Interestingly the discrimination at the job interview stage appears unrelated to discrimination at the first screening of applications.

Quillian, L., Lee, J., & Oliver, M. (2018). Meta-Analysis of Field Experiments Shows Significantly More Racial Discrimination in Job Offers than in Callbacks. Northwestern Workin Paper Series, 18(28). Retrieved from

Zschirnt, E., & Ruedin, D. (2016). Ethnic discrimination in hiring decisions: A meta-analysis of correspondence tests 1990–2015. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 42(7), 1115–1134.

Image: CC-by Richard Eriksson.

Limits of Descriptive Representation

There are many benefits of including minorities of power in decision-making — so-called descriptive representation. This is the case for women who remain numerically under-represented in legislatures around the world, but also ethnic minority groups, and other minorities.

There are, however, practical limitations to including different groups and subgroups in legislatures. Goodin (2004) highlights that there is a tension between including members from different groups and subgroups on the one hand, and the practical ability to debate in the legislature – thus rob them of the possibility of substantively represent their particular subgroup. Goodin highlights that legislatures and governments need not include all groups and subgroups in society to represent the fact of diversity. While this observation highlights why it is impossible to include every subgroup all the time, it should not distract from the need of including ethnic and regional minorities in processes of decision-making, and certainly not be seen as a licence to exclude large groups of society.

It might be helpful to take a longer-term perspective here: rather than focusing on the absence of particular (small) groups in society in any given legislature, focus on persistent exclusion over several legislatures. And bear in mind that representatives act on behalf of groups not directly included in decision-making — so we should also focus on the representation of interests (though this is much harder to do than simply counting, of course).

Goodin, R. 2004. «Representing Diversity». British Journal of Political Science 34 (3): 453–68.
Ruedin, Didier. 2013. Why Aren’t They There? The Political Representation of Women, Ethnic Groups and Issue Positions in Legislatures. Colchester: ECPR Press.

Image: CC-by-nc by Guilherme Sales

Choosing Unauthorized Migration

Our article on the choice of unauthorized migration (as opposed to authorized migration) is now available at International Migration. We benefit from data on return migrants in Albania to capture who is more likely to choose unauthorized migration — illegal or undocumented immigration are other common terms. We find that young men are particularly prone to unauthorized migration: we interpret this as a reflection of risk-taking behaviour. We also find that those who do not have social responsibilities (children, partner) are more likely to choose unauthorized migration.

Ruedin, Didier, and Majlinda Nesturi. 2018. ‘Choosing to Migrate Illegally: Evidence from Return Migrants’. International Migration 56 (4): 235–49.