Can Gender Quotas Break Down Negative Stereotypes? Evidence From Changes In Electoral Rules
In this paper we analyse the effect of gender quotas on women involvement in political activity using a rich data set providing information on all Italian local administrators elected from 1985 to 2007. Gender quotas were introduced in Italy by law in 1993 and were in force until 1995. Because of the short period covered by the reform, some municipalities never voted under the gender quota regime. This allows us to individuate a treatment and a control group and to estimate the effects of gender quotas using a difference-in-differences estimation strategy. Our estimates show that women representation in politics after the reform has increased significantly more in municipalities that were interested by the reform compared to municipalities that were not affected. This result holds true also if we exclude from our analysis elections taking place during the period in which the reform was in force. Moreover, the higher women representation in “Gender Quota Municipalities” is not related to the advantages that women elected during the reform have obtained from incumbency and does not seem to be driven by different temporal trends among Southern and Northern regions. These findings suggest that affirmative actions are useful to break down stereotypes against women.
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