The Global Legislators Database

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

Co-authored with Nicholas Carnes, Joshua Ferrer, Esme Lillywhite, Noam Lupu, and Eugenia Nazrullaeva

Prepared for presentation at the 2022 annual meetings of the American Political Science Association, 15–18 September, Montreal.

This note describes the Global Legislators Database (GLD), a new crossnational dataset on the characteristics — political party, gender, age, education, and occupational background — of the roughly 20,000 lawmakers in the world’s democracies. The database focuses on 102 democracies with more than 300,000 residents; for 97 of these nations, it is possible to obtain descriptive information about the overwhelming majority of lawmakers who held office during one session of the country’s lower or unicamerical legislature that sat in the years 2016 to 2017. The GLD is one of the only large-scale comparative politician databases to focus on national legislatures, and it includes information about 99.9 percent of lawmakers, a rate that far surpasses that of other comparable individual-level datasets. In this note, we show that the GLD’s estimates of country-level characteristics such as female representation are strongly validated by other available estimates; we preview some of the GLD’s many potential applications by conducting simple tests of hypotheses about gender-, education, and occupationally-based gaps in reelectation 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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