Portrait of Dr Andrea Den Boer

Dr Andrea Den Boer

Senior Lecturer in International Relations


Dr. Andrea den Boer is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. Her research focuses on gender and international relations issues, with an emphasis on women’s rights and the effectiveness of the UN human rights system, as well as the causes and consequences of violence against women. She has spent the past fifteen years researching gender selection in Asia, with a focus on practices of female infanticide and sex-selective abortion in India and China. She is the co-author, along with Valerie Hudson, of numerous publications on the effect of the demographic gender imbalance in Asia, including the award winning book Bare Branches: the Security Implications of Asia's Surplus Male Population.

Dr. den Boer is Editor of the journal Global Society: Journal of Interdisciplinary International Relations and a Principal Investigator on the WomanStats Project, an international database and interdisciplinary research project that facilitates investigations of the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states. 

Research interests

  • International Women's Rights
  • Violence Against Women
  • Gender and Population Policies in Asia
  • Ethical/Normative International Political Theory

Current Projects

Dr. den Boer’s research centres on themes of women’s rights, the effectiveness of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and women’s physical security.  She is currently researching the relationship between women’s rights and women’s physical security, and the implications that these have for the development and security of the state.

Within this broad research agenda, Dr. den Boer is exploring the relationship between women’s land rights and violence against women. Drawing on the seminal work of Bina Agarwal in Asian states, Dr. den Boer is testing the effect that women’s land rights have on women’s physical security in a cross-national study. She is further examining the extreme gender imbalances in populations such as China and India and the effect that the dearth of women in these states has on societal stability, security, and the prospects for peace and democratisation.

Dr. den Boer is one of the Principal Investigators of the WomanStats Project, an international database investigating the relationship between the situation of women and the security of states. The Database contains more than 300 indicators of women’s security/women’s status in 174 countries. Dr. den Boer is currently working on a research project with other WomanStats colleagues that examines the effect of polygyny on women’s empowerment and security.




Dr. den Boer is interested in supervising projects related to gender and international relations with a particular interest in projects that focus on international women’s rights or women’s security.




  • den Boer, A. and Bode, I. (2018). Gendering Security: Connecting Theory and Practice. Global Society [Online] 32:365-373. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/13600826.2018.1526780.
    Over the past 30 years, feminist approaches to International Relations have become an integral part of the discipline, recognising the subject and the objects of international relations as deeply gendered. Feminist IR scholars have made particularly important contributions to critical security studies, encouraging not only analytical attention to “non-traditional” security threats but also advocating deep reflection on how gendered hierarchies between masculinities and femininities are constructed parts of war, peace, and violence. The development of the women, peace, and security (WPS) agenda at the United Nations Security Council since 2000 and its diffusion across regional and national institutions has been a particular, empirical focus of feminist scholarship. This introduction briefly summarises core intellectual tenets of feminist IR in its relation to security studies, thereby providing the intellectual backdrop to the seven contributions of this special issue. These contributions critically unpack the framing of the WPS agenda, the extent to which its diffusion leads to diverging understandings in regional and national contexts, and broader questions related to the detrimental workings of gender constructions in post-conflict scenarios.
  • den Boer, A. and Hudson, V. (2017). Patrilineality, Son Preference, and Sex Selection in South Korea and Vietnam. Population and Development Review [Online] 43:119-147. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/padr.12041.
    Recent advances in promoting the rights of women and girls globally have been partially offset by increasing implementation of son preference through offspring sex selection, leading to rising sex ratios at birth1 (SRB) and child sex ratios throughout Asia, as well as parts of Eastern Europe and Africa. The past two decades have seen the number of countries with high child sex ratios increase from five to nineteen (Hudson and den Boer 2015). In recent history, only one country has reduced its sex ratio at birth from extremely high levels to biologically normal levels: South Korea, from a peak of 116.5 males per 100 females in 1990 to 106.2 in 2007. While South Korea's sex ratio at birth was declining throughout the early to mid 2000s, the sex ratio at birth in another Asian country, Vietnam, began an erratic rise, reaching 113.8 in 2013 (see Figure 1). How can we explain this recent rise in Vietnam's sex ratio, and are there lessons for Vietnam, or for other countries facing high sex ratios at birth, from the experience of South Korea?
  • den Boer, A. and Hudson, V. (2008). China’s Security, China’s Demographics: Aging, Masculinization, and Fertility Policy. Brown Journal of World Affairs 14:185-200.
  • Hudson, V. and den Boer, A. (2007). Bare Branches and Security in Asia. Harvard Asia Pacific Review [Online] 9:18-20. Available at: http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hapr/winter07_gov/hudson.pdf.
  • Hudson, V. and den Boer, A. (2005). Missing Women and Bare Branches: Gender Balance and Conflict. Environmental Change and Security Program Report [Online]:20-24. Available at: http://www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/pubs/Hudson&denBoer.pdf.
    The emerging subfield of “security demographics” examines the linkages between population dynamics and the security trajectories of nation-states. For the last 5 to 10 years, researchers have examined the security aspects of such topics as the demographic transition, the sub-replacement birth rates of developed economies, the proportion of young men as compared to older men in the population, the effects of legal and illegal immigration, and the effects of pandemics such as AIDS and drug-resistant tuberculosis.
    This paper aims to add the variable of gender balance to the discussion: are societies with an abnormal ratio between men and women less secure?
  • den Boer, A. and Hudson, V. (2004). The Security Threat of Asia’s Sex Ratios. SAIS Review [Online] 24:27-43. Available at: http://www.press.jhu.edu/journals/sais_review/.
    "Security demographics" has become a new subfield of Security Studies in recent years, as scholars have begun to envision the security implications of long-term demographic change. This subfield provides important new insight into the problem of population, social stability and conflict, but our research suggests that an additional demographic factor must be taken into account when assessing social stability and security of a state—that of sex ratios. What are the security implications for a population whose males, particularly those of the young adult population, significantly outnumber females? China and India, as well as several other Asian states, are currently undergoing various demographic transitions, one of the most important being the increasingly high sex ratios of young segments of these populations. We argue that internal instability is heightened in nations displaying the high level of exaggerated gender inequality indicated by high sex ratios, leading to an altered security calculus for the state. Possibilities of meaningful democracy and peaceful foreign policy are diminished as a result. The high sex ratios in China and India in particular have implications for the long-term security of these nations and the Asian region more broadly.
  • Hudson, V. and den Boer, A. A Surplus of Men, A Deficit of Peace: Security and Sex Ratios in Asia’s Largest States. International Security [Online] 26:5-38. Available at: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/files/hudson_and_den_boer_spring_2002.pdf.

Book section

  • Hudson, V. and den Boer, A. (2012). A Feminist Evolutionary Analysis of the Relationship Between Violence Against and Inequitable Treatment of Women, and Conflict Within and Between Human Collectives, Including Nation-States. In: The Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Perspectives on Violence, Homicide, and War. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 301-323. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199738403.013.0018.
    In this chapter we examine the theoretical linkage between the security of women and the security of states, drawing insights from evolutionary biology and psychology, political sociology, and psychology. A feminist evolutionary approach demonstrates the way in which male reproductive interests can and often do lead to strategies of sexual coercion of females, including violence. That violence can be directed at other males and other groups as male dominance hierarchies develop a parasitical approach to resource accumulation, involving coalitional aggression against out-groups in order to strip such groups of their resources. The mitigation of male dominance hierarchies is thus, we argue, key to the mitigation of dysfunctional, conflictual inter-group relations. We illustrate the effects of male dominance and structural patriarchy through an examination of polygyny and through historical cases before finally discussing strategies for mitigating male dominance hierarchies.
  • den Boer, A. (2010). Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics and Rupturing the Political. In: International Relations Theory and Philosophy: Interpretive Dialogues. Routledge, pp. 60-71.
  • den Boer, A. and Hudson, V. (2006). Sex-selective Infanticide and the “Missing Females” in China and India. In: Bechtold, B. and Cooper Graves, D. eds. Killing Infants: Studies in the Worldwide Practice of Infanticide. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, pp. 337-371. Available at: http://www.mellenpress.com/mellenpress.cfm?bookid=6715&pc=9.
  • den Boer, A. (2003). Messianic Moments and the Religious (Re)turn in International Relations. In: Mandaville, P. and Williams, A. eds. Meaning and International Relations. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group Ltd, pp. 139-152. Available at: http://search.tandf.co.uk/bookscatalogue.asp?URL=https://ecommerce.tandf.co.uk/catalogue/DirectLink.asp?ResourceCentre=SEARCH&ContinentSelected=0&CountrySelected=0&USSelected=0&ChangeCountry=0&search_text=041525812X&SearchGroup=ISBN&results_order=ByTitle&.
    This innovative volume brings together specialists in international relations to tackle a set of difficult questions about what it means to live in a globalized world where the purpose and direction of world politics are no longer clear-cut. What emerges from these essays is a very clear sense that while we may be living in an era that lacks a single, universal purpose, ours is still a world replete with meaning. The authors in this volume stress the need for a pluralistic conception of meaning in a globalized world and demonstrate how increased communication and interaction in transnational spaces work to produce complex tapestries of culture and politics. Meaning and International Relations also makes an original and convincing case for the relevance of hermeneutic approaches to understanding contemporary international relations.


  • Hudson, V. and den Boer, A. (2004). Bare Branches: The Security Implications of Asia’s Surplus Male Population. [Online]. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. Available at: http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/item/default.asp?ttype=2&tid=9963.
    What happens to a society that has too many men? In this provocative book, Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer argue that, historically, high male-to-female ratios often trigger domestic and international violence. Most violent crime is committed by young unmarried males who lack stable social bonds. Although there is not always a direct cause-and-effect relationship, these surplus men often play a crucial role in making violence prevalent within society. Governments sometimes respond to this problem by enlisting young surplus males in military campaigns and high-risk public works projects. Countries with high male-to-female ratios also tend to develop authoritarian political systems.

    Hudson and den Boer suggest that the sex ratios of many Asian countries, particularly China and India -- which represent almost 40 percent of the world's population -- are being skewed in favor of males on a scale that may be unprecedented in human history. Through offspring sex selection (often in the form of sex-selective abortion and female infanticide), these countries are acquiring a disproportionate number of low-status young adult males, called "bare branches" by the Chinese.

    Hudson and den Boer argue that this surplus male population in Asia's largest countries threatens domestic stability and international security. The prospects for peace and democracy are dimmed by the growth of bare branches in China and India, and, they maintain, the sex ratios of these countries will have global implications in the twenty-first century.
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