Does Gender Matter for Public Spending? Empirical Evidence from Italian Municipalities
52 Pages Posted: 15 May 2012
Date Written: April 27, 2012
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
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