HUMPHREY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS Student Research Series
Freeman Commons (HHH 205)
April 4, 2012 1:00 to 2:00
Is Lower Fertility a Path to Better Human Rights?
Bridget E. Marchesi
Candidate for Master of Public Policy
Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Professional Paper Committee:
Dara Cohen, Greta Friedemann-Sánchez, and Deborah Levison
Some scholars theorize that gender equality plays a role in predicting state sponsored political violence. While a handful of studies have empirically tested the potential causal relationship between gender equality and state sponsored political violence, few scholars have presented a focused theoretical argument for why the relationship might exist. The purpose of this paper is to present a theoretically focused and empirically tested argument explaining how gender equality is a determinant of political violence. I hypothesize that in more gender equitable societies women are more able to exert their preference for non-violent resolutions to political conflicts and the political and economic constraints imposed by women alters the willingness of regimes to repress the human rights of citizens. I argue that when fertility rates are reduced, women experience increased health status and consequentially increased human and social capital. With increased participation in political and economic life, women are able to mobilize politically and exert their non-violent preference on regimes. I statistically test the impact of gender equality on human rights using panel data covering 20 years and 166 countries across all continents. Results suggest that an increase in fertility rate increases the proportional odds of moving from a lower level to a higher level of human rights abuse. Results hold when controlling for previously tested determinants of state human rights abuse.
Sponsored by the HHH Global Policy Area