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The Global Legislators Database

The Personal Backgrounds of National Legislators in the World’s Democracies



This note describes the Global Legislators Database (GLD), a new crossnational dataset on characteristics — political party, gender, age, education, and occupational background — of the roughly 20,000 lawmakers in the world’s democracies. The database includes 97 democ- racies (of 103) with populations over 300,000, with information about the 99.9 percent of legislators who held office in each country’s lower chamber or unicameral legislature during one legislative session in 2016 or 2017. The GLD is the largest individual-level biographical database on national legislatures ever assembled, and it has a wide range of potential applica- tions. In this note, we show that the GLD’s estimates of characteristics such as female repre- sentation are strongly validated by alternative estimates; we preview one potential application by conducting tests of hypotheses about gender, education, and occupationally-based gaps in reelection rates; and we discuss other possible uses for this one-of-a-kind resource for studying representation in the world’s democracies


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