Skip directly to content

Divya Dev - Research Summary

Stockholm University

The Impact of Gender Quotas on Local Election Outcomes in India

This paper aims to analyse the impact of gender-based quotas on election and village
development outcomes in the context of rural India. The first goal is to estimate the effect
of exposure to a woman mayor on the probability that a woman is elected in the
subsequent election. This of interest because, in most situations, quotas are intended as
temporary measures to improve representation of women in government. However,
despite these intentions, once quotas are introduced, they are rarely retracted and thus it
is difficult to understand whether they are able to generate substantial change in electoral
outcomes if they were to be removed. The rotating structure of gender quotas in local
village elections in India creates a quasi-experimental setting to estimate these effects.
The key finding is that mandated exposure to a woman through the Indian gender quota
(reservation) policy increases the likelihood that a woman wins the post of mayor in the
next election cycle without the gender quota. Furthermore, this positive effect is partly
driven by incumbents who are re-elected. Going forward, I will also add to this analysis by
estimating whether the gender quotas policy affected the number of female candidates in
mayoral elections.

The second goal is to utilize the multi-tier structure of the local rural government to study
whether having women at the top of each level of government can affect electoral and
village level outcomes. Given that prior research has found that women mayors in India
are more focused on investing in issues that interest women, I look at whether this
translates into women favouring women at every level of government or if lack of