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Women political leaders, corruption, and learning: Evidence from a large public program in India

Women political leaders, corruption, and learning: Evidence from a large public program in India

Afridi, Farzana, Iversen, Vegard and Sharan, M. R. (2017) Women political leaders, corruption, and learning: Evidence from a large public program in India. Economic Development and Cultural Change, 66 (1). pp. 1-30. ISSN 0013-0079 (Print), 1539-2988 (Online) (doi:https://doi.org/10.1086/693679)

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Abstract

We exploit randomly assigned political quotas for women to identify the impact of women’s political leadership on corruption and on the governance of India’s largest poverty-alleviation program to date. Using survey data, we find more program inefficiencies and leakages in village councils reserved for women heads: political and administrative inexperience make such councils more vulnerable to bureaucratic capture. This is at odds with claims of unconditional gains from women assuming political office. A panel of official audit reports enables us to explore (a) whether newly elected women leaders in reserved seats initially perform worse; (b) whether they partly catch up, fully catch up, or eventually outperform (male) leaders in unreserved seats; and (c) the time it takes for such catch-up to occur. We find that women leaders in reserved seats initially underperform but rapidly learn and quickly and fully catch up with male politicians in unreserved seats. Over the duration of their elected tenure, we find no evidence of overtake. Our findings suggest short-term costs of affirmative action policies but also that once initial disadvantages recede, women leaders are neither more nor less effective local politicians than men.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political reservations, gender, corruption, NREGA, India
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Engineering & Science
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute
Faculty of Engineering & Science > Natural Resources Institute > Livelihoods & Institutions Department
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2018 14:19
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/22021

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