Does Gender Matter for Public Spending? Empirical Evidence from Italian Municipalities

52 Pages Posted: 15 May 2012

Date Written: April 27, 2012

Abstract

This paper studies whether the allocation of municipal expenditure in Italy is influenced by female representation in Municipal Councils. Despite the existence of gender-specific preferences in society, we find no clear evidence that the amount of resources distributed among different spending categories is significantly affected by politicians’ gender. The results are robust to a large variety of specifications and estimation techniques, where we also take into account the existence of an endogeneity problem. This is addressed using an instrumental variable approach, based on a temporary change in Italian law that reserved a gender quota in party lists for municipal elections, thus causing an exogenous increase in the number of women elected in Municipal Councils. The substantial absence of a gender bias is consistent with the median voter theorem, suggesting that politicians’ preferences and personal characteristics do not matter in public choices. Alternatively, it may be that gender is not one of the determinants of politicians’ voting behaviour, implying that the preferences of the women involved in political activities are close to those of their male colleagues.

Keywords: gender, political representation, municipal expenditure, instrumental variable

JEL Classification: C23, C36, D78, H72, J16

Suggested Citation

Rigon, Massimiliano and Tanzi, Giulia, Does Gender Matter for Public Spending? Empirical Evidence from Italian Municipalities (April 27, 2012). Bank of Italy Temi di Discussione (Working Paper) No. 862. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2057858 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2057858

Massimiliano Rigon (Contact Author)

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184
Italy

Giulia Tanzi

Bank of Italy ( email )

Via Nazionale 91
Rome, 00184
Italy

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