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Female political representation and the gender health gap: a cross-national analysis of 49 European countries

Reeves, Aaron, Brown, Chris ORCID: 0000-0003-3478-7246 and Hanefeld, Johanna (2022) Female political representation and the gender health gap: a cross-national analysis of 49 European countries. European journal of public health, 32 (5). pp. 684-689. ISSN 1464-360X

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Identification Number: 10.1093/eurpub/ckac122

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Does increased female participation in the social and political life of a country improve health? Social participation may improve health because it ensures that the concerns of all people are heard by key decision-makers. More specifically, when women's social participation increases this may lead to health gains because women are more likely to vote for leaders and lobby for policies that will enhance the health of everyone. This article tries to examine whether female participation is correlated with measures of health inequality. METHODS: We draw on data from the World Health Organization Health Equity Status Report initiative and the Varieties of Democracy project to assess whether health is better and health inequalities are smaller in countries where female political representation is greater. RESULTS: We find consistent evidence that greater female political representation is associated with lower geographical inequalities in infant mortality, smaller inequalities in self-reported health (for both women and men) and fewer disability-adjusted life-years lost for women and men. Finally, we find that greater female political representation is not only correlated with better health for men and women but is also correlated with a smaller gap between men and women because men seem to experience better health in such contexts. CONCLUSIONS: Greater female political representation is associated with better health for everyone and smaller inequalities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2022.
Divisions: International Inequalities Institute
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2022 13:48
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2022 09:22
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/117140

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