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Health and the Political Agency of Women

  • Sonia Bhalotra
  • Irma Clots-Figueras


We investigate whether politician gender influences policy outcomes in India. We focus upon antenatal and postnatal public health provision since the costs of poor services in this domain are disproportionately borne by women. Accounting for potential endogeneity of politician gender and the sample composition of births, we find that a one standard deviation increase in women’s political representation results in a 1.5 percentage point reduction in neonatal mortality. Women politicians are more likely to build public health facilities and encourage antenatal care, institutional delivery and immunization. The results are topical given that a bill proposing quotas for women in state assemblies is currently pending in the Indian Parliament.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 11/280.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:11/280
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  1. Sonia Bhalotra, 2007. "Fatal Fluctuations? - Cyclicality in Infant Mortality in India," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 07/181, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & Rawlings, Samantha, 2010. "Intergenerational Persistence in Health in Developing Countries: The Penalty of Gender Inequality?," IZA Discussion Papers 5371, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Irma Clots-Figueras, 2012. "Are Female Leaders Good for Education? Evidence from India," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 212-44, January.
  9. Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2007. "Has Democratization Reduced Infant Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa? Evidence from Micro Data," ISER Discussion Paper 0685, Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University.
  10. Oswald, Andrew J. & Powdthavee, Nattavudh, 2006. "Daughters and Left-Wing Voting," IZA Discussion Papers 2103, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Keefer, Philip & Khemani, Stuti, 2003. "Democracy, public expenditures, and the poor," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3164, The World Bank.
  12. 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.
  13. Bhalotra, Sonia R. & van Soest, Arthur, 2006. "Birth Spacing, Fertility and Neonatal Mortality in India: Dynamics, Frailty and Fecundity," IZA Discussion Papers 2163, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Aizer, Anna & Currie, Janet, 2004. "Networks or neighborhoods? Correlations in the use of publicly-funded maternity care in California," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2573-2585, December.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
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