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Unappreciated service: Performance, perceptions, and women leaders in india

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  • Esther Duflo
  • Petia Topalova

Abstract

This paper studies the impact of reservation for women on the performance of policy makers and on voters' perceptions of this performance. Since the mid 1990's, one third of Village Council head positions in India have been randomly reserved for a woman: In these councils only women could be elected to the position of chief. Village Councils are responsible for the provision of many local public goods in rural areas. Using a data set which combines individual level data on satisfaction with public services with independent assessments of the quality of public facilities, we compare objective measures of the quantity and quality of public goods, and information about how villagers evaluate the performance of male and female leaders. Overall, villages reserved for women leaders have more public goods, and the measured quality of these goods is at least as high as in non-reserved villages. Moreover, villagers are less likely to pay bribes in villages reserved for women. Yet, residents of villages headed by women are less satisfied with the public goods, including goods that are beyond the jurisdiction of the Panchayat. This may help explain why women rarely win elections even though they appear to be at least as effective leaders along observable dimensions, and are less corrupt.

Suggested Citation

  • Esther Duflo & Petia Topalova, 2004. "Unappreciated service: Performance, perceptions, and women leaders in india," Framed Field Experiments 00233, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:framed:00233
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    Cited by:

    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. Pande, Rohini, 2008. "Understanding Political Corruption in Low Income Countries," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
    3. Esther Duflo, 2012. "Women Empowerment and Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 50(4), pages 1051-1079, December.
    4. Hicks, Daniel L. & Hicks, Joan Hamory & Maldonado, Beatriz, 2016. "Women as policy makers and donors: Female legislators and foreign aid," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 46-60.
    5. repec:ucp:ecdecc:doi:10.1086/692114 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Ghani, Ejaz & Kerr, William R. & O'Connell, Stephen D., 2014. "Political reservations and women's entrepreneurship in India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 138-153.
    7. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2013. "Do elected councils improve governance ? experimental evidence on local institutions in Afghanistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6510, The World Bank.
    8. Timothy Besley & Rohini Pande & Vijayendra Rao, 2005. "Political Selection and the Quality of Government: Evidence from South India," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 08, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
    9. 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(3), pages 501-530, April.
    10. 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.
    11. Baltrunaite, Audinga & Bello, Piera & Casarico, Alessandra & Profeta, Paola, 2014. "Gender quotas and the quality of politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 62-74.
    12. Yuvraj Pathak & Karen Macours, 2017. "Women’s Political Reservation, Early Childhood Development, and Learning in India," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(4), pages 741-766.
    13. Carolina Castilla, 2017. "Political role models, child marriage, and women’s autonomy over marriage in India," WIDER Working Paper Series 121, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    14. Olken, Benjamin A., 2009. "Corruption perceptions vs. corruption reality," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 950-964, August.
    15. Périlleux, Anaïs & Szafarz, Ariane, 2015. "Women Leaders and Social Performance: Evidence from Financial Cooperatives in Senegal," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 437-452.
    16. repec:eee:wdevel:v:114:y:2019:i:c:p:138-155 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Evans, David K. & Holtemeyer, Brian & Kosec, Katrina, 2019. "Cash transfers increase trust in local government," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 138-155.
    18. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Ruben Enikolopov, 2013. "Empowering Women through Development Aid: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Working Papers w0191, New Economic School (NES).

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