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Health and the Political Agency of Women

  • Sonia Bhalotra
  • Irma Clots-Figueras

We investigate whether women's political representation in state legislatures improves public provision of antenatal and childhood health services in the districts from which they are elected, arguing that the costs of poor services in this domain fall disproportionately upon women. Using large representative data samples from India and accounting for potential endogeneity of politician gender and the sample composition of births, we find that a 10 percentage point increase in women's representation results in a 2.1 percentage point reduction in neonatal mortality, and we elucidate mechanisms. Women's political representation may be an underutilized tool for addressing health in developing countries.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 6 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 164-97

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:6:y:2014:i:2:p:164-97
Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.6.2.164
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-policy
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  1. Sonia Bhalotra & Arthur van Soest, 2007. "Birth Spacing, Fertility and Neonatal Mortality in India:Dynamics, Frailty and Fecundity," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 07/168, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  2. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap and the Decline in Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961.
  3. Bhalotra, Sonia R., 2007. "Fatal Fluctuations? Cyclicality in Infant Mortality in India," IZA Discussion Papers 3086, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Keefer, Philip & Khemani, Stuti, 2003. "Democracy, public expenditures, and the poor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3164, The World Bank.
  5. Lori A. Beaman & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Rohini Pande & Petia Topalova, 2008. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," NBER Working Papers 14198, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Andrew J. Oswald & Nattavudh Powdthavee, 2010. "Daughters and Left-Wing Voting," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 92(2), pages 213-227, May.
  7. Das, Jishnu & Hammer, Jeffrey, 2007. "Money for nothing: The dire straits of medical practice in Delhi, India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-36, May.
  8. Anna Aizer & Janet Currie, 2002. "Networks or Neighborhoods? Correlations in the Use of Publicly-Funded Maternity Care in California," NBER Working Papers 9209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2012. "Has Democratization Reduced Infant Mortality In Sub-Saharan Africa? Evidence From Micro Data," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(6), pages 1294-1317, December.
  10. Irma Clots-Figueras, 2005. "Women in politics: evidence from the Indian states," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19294, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  11. Sonia Bhalotra & Arthur van Soest, 2004. "Birth Spacing and Neonatal Mortality in India: Dynamics, Frailty and Fecundity," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 04/567, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  12. David S. Lee, 2001. "The Electoral Advantage to Incumbency and Voters' Valuation of Politicians' Experience: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Elections to the U.S..," NBER Working Papers 8441, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Clots-Figueras, Irma, 2007. "Are female leaders good for education? : Evidence from India," UC3M Working papers. Economics we077342, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
  14. Bhalotra, Sonia & Rawlings, Samantha B., 2011. "Intergenerational persistence in health in developing countries: The penalty of gender inequality?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(3), pages 286-299.
  15. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451.
  16. Pettersson-Lidbom , Per, 2003. "Do Parties Matter for Fiscal Policy Choices? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Research Papers in Economics 2003:15, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  17. Hoddinott, John & Haddad, Lawrence, 1995. "Does Female Income Share Influence Household Expenditures? Evidence from Cote d'Ivoire," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 57(1), pages 77-96, February.
  18. Filmer, Deon & Hammer, Jeffrey S & Pritchett, Lant H, 2000. "Weak Links in the Chain: A Diagnosis of Health Policy in Poor Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 15(2), pages 199-224, August.
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