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Proportional Representation is not just better for democracy, but has associated positive outcomes relating to equality. Links between proportional voting systems and reduced inequality have been observed in countries the world over.

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Income Inequality

Studies have found that countries with proportional electoral systems have considerably lower income inequality than those with majoritarian systems like First Past the Post. Based on the evidence, political scientists have concluded there’s a causal relationship at work; countries with PR "tend to reduce income inequalities whereas majoritarian institutions have the opposite effect” and that when the degree of proportionality of a system increases, income inequality decreases. Analysis has found these effects to be highly significant, with PR accounting for 51% of the variance of income inequality among countries (Birchfield and Crepaz, 1998)

Countries with PR also tend to have a more equal distribution of public goods. A 2009 study by Carey and Hix found that countries using PR achieved higher scores on the United Nations Index of Human Development, described as “a reasonable overall indicator of government performance in the delivery of public goods and human welfare."


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Gender Equality

First Past the Post has been called "the world's worst voting system for achieving gender balance" in politics (Kuper, 1990). Just 32% of British MPs are women. Numerous studies have found that countries with Proportional Representation produce a better gender balance (Matland, 1998; Reynolds, 1999). Every single country with more than 40% female MP in its primary legislature uses a proportional voting system.

In fact, research shows that on average, the share of women elected to parliamentary bodies is 8% higher in countries that use a proportional method of electing representatives.

References:

Birchfield, Vicki and Crepaz, Markus (1998). “The Impact of Constitutional Structures and Collective and Competitive Veto Points on Income Inequality in Industrialized Democracies.” European Journal of Political Research 34: 175-200.

Carey, John M. and Hix, Simon (2009). “The Electoral Sweet Spot: Low-magnitude Proportional Electoral Systems.” PSPE Working Paper 01-2009. Department of Government, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK

Kuper, Richard (1990). Electing for democracy: Proportional Representation and the left. Worcester: Socialist Society.

Matland, R. (1998). Women’s representation in national legislatures: Developed and developing countries. Legislative Studies Quarterly, XXIII, 1, 109–125.

Reynolds, A. (1999). Women in the legislatures and executives of the world: knocking at the highest glass ceiling. World Politics, 51(4), 547–572.


Make Votes Matter is a single-issue campaign for Proportional Representation in the House of Commons and encourages all parties, candidates and MPs to support PR. It does not endorse any party or candidates and takes no position on other political issues.

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