Health and the Political Agency of Women

45 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2011 Last revised: 16 Apr 2023

See all articles by Sonia R. Bhalotra

Sonia R. Bhalotra

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Irma Clots-Figueras

University of Kent


We investigate whether politician gender influences policy outcomes in India. We focus upon antenatal and postnatal public health provision since the costs of poor services in this domain are disproportionately borne by women. Accounting for potential endogeneity of politician gender and the sample composition of births, we find that a one standard deviation increase in women's political representation results in a 1.5 percentage point reduction in neonatal mortality. Women politicians are more likely to build public health facilities and encourage antenatal care, institutional delivery and immunization. The results are topical given that a bill proposing quotas for women in state assemblies is currently pending in the Indian Parliament.

Keywords: social preferences, health, mortality, gender, political identity, India

JEL Classification: H41, I18, O15

Suggested Citation

Bhalotra, Sonia R. and Clots-Figueras, Irma, Health and the Political Agency of Women. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6216, Available at SSRN: or

Sonia R. Bhalotra (Contact Author)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Irma Clots-Figueras

University of Kent ( email )

Keynes College
Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NP
United Kingdom

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