Does gender matter for public spending? Empirical evidence from Italian municipalities
This paper studies whether municipal expenditure in Italy is influenced by female representation in city councils. To correctly capture the causal relation we use the instrumental variable technique. Our instrument is based on a temporary change in the Italian normative occurred between 1993 and 1995 that reserved a gender quota in party lists for municipal elections, causing an exogenous change in the number of women elected in city councils. We take advantage of the fact that not all the municipalities have been treated by the law, due to its short period of enforcement. Despite the existence of gender specific preferences in the society, we find no evidence that the allocation of resources among different spending categories is affected by the gender of politicians. Our results are consistent with the Median voter theorem. Alternatively, they may suggest that the gender is not a determinant of politicians’ voting behaviour, implying that the preferences of the women involved in political activities are close to those of their male colleagues.
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