This article analyzes the relevance of family ties for the recruitment of chief executives - presidents or prime ministers - with special emphasis on gender. Based on a cross-national data-set examining political chief executives from 2000-2017 in five world regions (Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe, and North America), we test several hypotheses and present four main results. First, belonging to a political family (BPF), is an advantage to entering national executive positions around the world, for both democracies and non-democracies. Among those with a sizeable number of executives in this period, regions range from 9 percent (Africa) to 13 percent (Latin America and Europe) of executives BPF. Second, executives’ family ties are more powerful (with a previous chief executive) in Asia, Africa, and Latin America and more direct (with an immediate family member) in Asia and Africa. Across the globe, women only made up 6% of chief executives in the time period. Third, females who manage to become chief executives are more often BPF than their male counterparts, particularly in Asia and Latin America. Fourth, regardless of region, family ties nearly always originate from men, not women.
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