International Monetary Fund programmes and the glass cliff effect

Mirko Heinzel, Andreas Kern, Saliha Metinsoy, Bernhard Reinsberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Downloads (Pure)


We analyse the impact of International Monetary Fund (IMF) programmes on appointing women leaders in ministerial positions. We hypothesize that women leaders are selected after an incumbent government starts an IMF programme to shift accountability to them during political and economic turmoil. This political manoeuvring of appointing women to leadership positions during a crisis is known as the ‘glass cliff’ effect. We demonstrate substantial evidence for such a ‘glass cliff’ effect using data covering all IMF programmes from 1980 to 2018. Our evidence shows that women are more likely to be appointed to austerity-bearing ministerial positions under IMF programmes but not in positions of authority during negotiations with the IMF. This effect is more pronounced when a country displays worse societal gender norms, a higher level of corruption and a government facing a deeper economic crisis. Importantly, we verify that neither women's leadership nor a higher share of women in government predicts a balance of payments crisis triggering an IMF programme. In other words, women leaders do not govern worse; they are appointed to leadership positions in precarious, crisis-ridden conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Political Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 31 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. European Journal of Political Research published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Consortium for Political Research.

Research programs



Dive into the research topics of 'International Monetary Fund programmes and the glass cliff effect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this