IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Gender Quotas and the Quality of Politicians


  • Audinga Baltrunaite
  • Piera Bello
  • Alessandra Casarico
  • Paola Profeta


We analyze the effect of the introduction of gender quotas in candidate lists on the quality of elected politicians. We consider an Italian law which introduced gender quotas in local elections in 1993, and was abolished in 1995. As not all municipalities went through elections during the period the reform was in force, we can identify two groups of municipalities and use a Difference in Differences estimation to analyze the effect of gender quotas on the quality of elected politicians. We find that gender quotas are associated with a higher average number of years of schooling of elected politicians, with the effect ranging from 0.12 to 0.18 years of education. This effect is due not only to the higher number of elected women, who are on average more educated than their male colleagues, but also to the lower number of low-educated elected men. The positive effect on quality is confirmed also when we measure the latter with alternative indicators of the quality of politicians, it persists in the long run and it is robust to the inclusion of political ideology.

Suggested Citation

  • Audinga Baltrunaite & Piera Bello & Alessandra Casarico & Paola Profeta, 2012. "Gender Quotas and the Quality of Politicians," CESifo Working Paper Series 3734, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3734

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lori Beaman & Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo & Rohini Pande & Petia Topalova, 2009. "Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1497-1540.
    2. Bertocchi, Graziella, 2011. "The enfranchisement of women and the welfare state," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 535-553, May.
    3. Joseph G. Altonji & Todd E. Elder & Christopher R. Taber, 2005. "Selection on Observed and Unobserved Variables: Assessing the Effectiveness of Catholic Schools," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 151-184, February.
    4. Timothy Besley, 2005. "Political Selection," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(3), pages 43-60, Summer.
    5. Clots-Figueras, Irma, 2011. "Women in politics: Evidence from the Indian States," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 664-690, August.
    6. Ferreira, Fernando & Gyourko, Joseph, 2014. "Does gender matter for political leadership? The case of U.S. mayors," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 24-39.
    7. Kotakorpi, Kaisa & Poutvaara, Panu, 2011. "Pay for politicians and candidate selection: An empirical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7-8), pages 877-885, August.
    8. Djankov, Simeon & Glaeser, Edward & La Porta, Rafael & Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & Shleifer, Andrei, 2003. "The new comparative economics," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 595-619, December.
    9. Timothy Besley & Ian Preston, 2007. "Electoral Bias and Policy Choice: Theory and Evidence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1473-1510.
    10. Stefano Gagliarducci & M. Daniele Paserman, 2012. "Gender Interactions within Hierarchies: Evidence from the Political Arena," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(3), pages 1021-1052.
    11. Dreher, Axel & Lamla, Michael J. & Lein, Sarah M. & Somogyi, Frank, 2009. "The impact of political leaders' profession and education on reforms," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 169-193, March.
    12. Caselli, Francesco & Morelli, Massimo, 2004. "Bad politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 759-782, March.
    13. Edward L. Glaeser & Rafael La Porta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Do Institutions Cause Growth?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 271-303, September.
    14. Piergiuseppe Fortunato & Ugo Panizza, 2015. "Democracy, education and the quality of government," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 333-363, December.
    15. Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann, 2015. "Gender gaps in policy making: evidence from direct democracy in Switzerland," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(81), pages 141-181.
    16. Folke, Olle & Rickne, Johanna, 2012. "Female representation but male rule? Party competition and the political glass ceiling," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2012:9, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    17. Aidt, T.S. & Dutta, Jayasri & Loukoianova, Elena, 2006. "Democracy comes to Europe: Franchise extension and fiscal outcomes 1830-1938," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 249-283, February.
    18. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, September.
    19. repec:bla:econom:v:84:y:2017:i:335:p:454-479 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. De Paola, Maria & Scoppa, Vincenzo & Lombardo, Rosetta, 2010. "Can gender quotas break down negative stereotypes? Evidence from changes in electoral rules," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(5-6), pages 344-353, June.
    21. Esteve-Volart, Berta & Bagues, Manuel, 2012. "Are women pawns in the political game? Evidence from elections to the Spanish Senate," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 387-399.
    22. Antonio Merlo & Vincenzo Galasso & Massimiliano Landi & Andrea Mattozzi, 2008. "The Labor Market of Italian Politicians," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 89, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    23. Benjamin F. Jones & Benjamin A. Olken, 2005. "Do Leaders Matter? National Leadership and Growth Since World War II," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 835-864.
    24. Thomas Braendle & Alois Stutzer, 2010. "Public servants in parliament: theory and evidence on its determinants in Germany," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 145(1), pages 223-252, October.
    25. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini, 2013. "Do Better Paid Politicians Perform Better? Disentangling Incentives From Selection," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(2), pages 369-398, April.
    26. Muriel Niederle & Carmit Segal & Lise Vesterlund, 2013. "How Costly Is Diversity? Affirmative Action in Light of Gender Differences in Competitiveness," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 59(1), pages 1-16, May.
    27. Audinga Baltrunaite & Alessandra Casarico & Paola Profeta, 2014. "Spill-over Effects of Affirmative Action: Political Representation and the Power of the Elderly," CESifo Working Paper Series 4955, CESifo Group Munich.
    28. Bellows, John & Miguel, Edward, 2009. "War and local collective action in Sierra Leone," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(11-12), pages 1144-1157, December.
    29. Timothy Besley & Jose G. Montalvo & Marta Reynal‐Querol, 2011. "Do Educated Leaders Matter?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(554), pages 205-205, August.
    30. De Paola, Maria & Scoppa, Vincenzo & De Benedetto, Marco Alberto, 2014. "The impact of gender quotas on electoral participation: Evidence from Italian municipalities," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 141-157.
    31. Esther Duflo & Petia Topalova, 2004. "Unappreciated service: Performance, perceptions, and women leaders in india," Framed Field Experiments 00233, The Field Experiments Website.
    32. Antonio Merlo & Vincenzo Galasso & Massimiliano Landi & Andrea Mattozzi, 2008. "the Labor Market of Italian Politicians, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 09-024, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 May 2009.
    33. Galasso, Vincenzo & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2011. "Competing on Good Politicians," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 105(01), pages 79-99, February.
    34. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:8:p:2204-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    35. Paulo Júlio & José Tavares, 2017. "The Good, the Bad and the Different: Can Gender Quotas Raise the Quality of Politicians?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(335), pages 454-479, July.
    36. Casas-Arce, Pablo & Saiz, Albert, 2011. "Women and Power: Unwilling, Ineffective, or Held Back?," IZA Discussion Papers 5645, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    37. repec:feb:natura:0037 is not listed on IDEAS
    38. John R. Lott & Jr. & Lawrence W. Kenny, 1999. "Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1163-1198, December.
    39. repec:pit:wpaper:342 is not listed on IDEAS
    40. Timothy Besley & Olle Folke & Torsten Persson & Johanna Rickne, 2017. "Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(8), pages 2204-2242, August.
    41. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    gender quotas; municipal elections; difference in differences; average years of education;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3734. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Klaus Wohlrabe). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.