Free DP Download 07 October 2021 - WOMEN LEGISLATORS AND ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Thushyanthan Baskaran, Sonia Bhalotra and Yogesh Uppal CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16605 | October 2021

Evidence from India shows that there is significantly higher growth in economic activity in constituencies that elect women. Women legislators are also more efficacious, more likely to complete infrastructure projects, are less corrupt and less vulnerable to political opportunism.

There has been a phenomenal global increase in the proportion of women in politics in the last two decades, but there is no evidence of how this influences economic performance. A new CEPR study by Thushyanthan Baskaran, Sonia Bhalotra and Yogesh Uppal investigates using data on competitive elections to India's 4265 state assemblies, leveraging close elections to isolate causal effects. Among the findings: 

  • There is significantly higher growth in economic activity in constituencies that elect women and no evidence of negative spillovers to neighbouring male-led constituencies, consistent with net growth. 
  • Women legislators in India raise economic performance in their constituencies by 2.3 percentage points per year more than male legislators. 
  • The share of non-farm employment is higher under women than under male legislators by 0.84% points per year.
  • Probing mechanisms, the research also shows that women legislators are more efficacious, more likely to achieve completion of road infrastructure projects, less corrupt and less vulnerable to political opportunism.

These results suggest that, as economic development progresses, the growth advantage from electing women may narrow but is unlikely to be eliminated.

Figure: Constituencies in which a female candidate won an assembly constituency seat in state elections between 1992 and 2008.


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