The Importance of Being Earnest: What Drives the Gender Quota Effect in Politics
56 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2022 Last revised: 15 Jun 2022
While gender quotas in politics have been adopted worldwide, evidence on their impact on women’s substantive representation is mixed. To examine this issue, we estimate the relative importance of greater demand expressed by female voters under female leadership vis-à-vis female leaders’ differential preference (supply) in shaping the gender quota effect. We use data on the household level allocation of toilets for the entire rural population (25 million households) of Uttar Pradesh, India. Our empirical strategy exploits the larger gender gap in toilet preference among Muslims than Hindus and the greater expression of demand by female-headed households, relative to male-headed ones in a difference-in-discontinuity design to identify demand and supply mechanisms. We find that greater expression of demand is important in shaping the gender quota effect, while there is weak evidence of the supply mechanism. These results highlight the importance of empowering female voters in making gender quotas more effective.
Keywords: Female reservation, women's agency, public good preference, sanitation
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