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Tokenism or Agency? The Impact of Women’s Reservations on Village Democracies in South India

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  • Radu Ban
  • Vijayendra Rao

Abstract

panchayats) for women candidates. Previous research has found that such “reservations†result in policy decisions that are closer to the preferences of women; qualitative research has argued, conversely, that it results in token appointments in which women are appointed by elites and are poorly educated and aged. We do not find evidence in favor of the tokenism hypothesis, finding that women leaders are drawn from the upper end of the quality distribution of women. However, we find that female leaders perform no differently than male leaders. Our results also indicate that institutional factors matter much more for women than for men: women perform better than men in situations in which they have more political experience and live in villages less dominated by upper castes.

Suggested Citation

  • Radu Ban & Vijayendra Rao, 2008. "Tokenism or Agency? The Impact of Women’s Reservations on Village Democracies in South India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56, pages 501-530.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:ecdecc:v:56:y:2008:p:501-530
    DOI: 10.1086/533551
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Esther Duflo & Petia Topalova, 2004. "Unappreciated service: Performance, perceptions, and women leaders in india," Framed Field Experiments 00233, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Lupin Rahman & Vijayendra Rao, 2004. "The Politics of Public Good Provision: Evidence from Indian Local Governments," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 2(2-3), pages 416-426, 04/05.
    3. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2005. "Participatory Democracy in Action: Survey Evidence from South India," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(2-3), pages 648-657, 04/05.
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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2012. "Just Rewards? Local Politics and Public Resource Allocation in South India," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 26(2), pages 191-216.
    2. Ban, Radu & Rao, Vijayendra, 2009. "Is deliberation equitable ? evidence from transcripts of village meetings in south India," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4928, The World Bank.
    3. Stephen D. O'Connell, 2014. "Political Inclusion and Educational Investment," Working Papers 4, City University of New York Graduate Center, Ph.D. Program in Economics, revised 15 Jul 2015.
    4. Kalsi, Priti, 2017. "Seeing is believing- can increasing the number of female leaders reduce sex selection in rural India?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 1-18.
    5. Gangadharan, Lata & Jain, Tarun & Maitra, Pushkar & Vecci, Joseph, 2016. "Social identity and governance: The behavioral response to female leaders," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 302-325.

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