Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Political Science & Economics, Waseda University

Award Information

Abe Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Assistant Professor, The Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology
The Effect of Minority Legislative Representation

Issues surrounding minorities in society continue to gain importance everywhere around the world. Minority groups – whether gender, ethnic, racial, religious, or language minorities – tend to occupy disadvantageous positions in society and are often subject to discrimination, unequal treatment, and even hostility. Conflicts among various ethnic groups and struggles to unite a country into a single entity in the face of separationalist movements as well as the rising awareness of new group identity remain a serious challenge in many parts of the world. Recent examples from Iraq, Belgium, and Georgia clearly illustrate the point. Women – the largest political minority group – still occupy less prominent positions in both public and private spheres and face obstacles and discrimination in their everyday lives. The influx of immigrants and foreign workers in the age of globalization creates new minority groups in numerous countries, including the United States and Japan, spawning new tensions. How should countries treat and incorporate minority groups into their society? How can countries make sure that the positions of minorities improve? How can they unite the nation and mitigate the prospect of internal conflicts and hostility among groups? These are important and urgent questions with strong policy relevance for the contemporary society. This project investigates whether political representation of minorities contributes to improved positions of minority groups, subsequently leading to less conflict and inequality among groups. Incorporating minorities into the political process through legislative representation is one of the common methods employed in many countries, and such efforts have become even more popular in recent years. For example, many countries employ mandatory representation of ethnic minorities in the legislature, and a number of countries and political parties introduced gender quotas in order to enhance female representation. Despite their popularity, however, the effects of these arrangements are not systematically known. Do they lead to meaningful representation of these groups, or do they merely result in tokenism? Under what conditions does minority representation become truly effective? This project provides a series of solid empirical evidence on the effectiveness of these arrangements and examines the policy effects of minority representation. It contributes to the political science literature on representation and institutions, while at the same time providing scientific evidence that can guide important policies related to minorities in society. Answering the above questions requires a large research project, and, in its final form, the project will become comparative studies of the United States, Japan, India, and New Zealand. During the period of the Abe fellowship, I will focus on two cases of minority representation: African Americans and Latinos in the United States and women in Japan and the United States. The method of analysis is empirical data analysis employing large data sets, supplemented by in-depth case studies and interviews. The level of analysis is state- and local (municipality)-level, and empirical data that will be collected include the levels of minority representation and its effects on various policies and the level of inequality and conflicts among groups.