Thushyanthan Baskaran, Zohal Hessami, 18 February 2020

The fact that women are underrepresented in politics is often viewed as an important social problem. But why should it be a problem? This column argues that when too few women hold political office, political decisions may not adequately reflect women’s needs and preferences. Using the example of the public provision of childcare in Germany, it shows that municipalities with a higher share of female councillors expand public childcare more quickly. The fact that the presence of women has substantive effects on policies should be taken into account in current debates around the introduction of gender quotas in politics.

Lakshmi Iyer, 24 May 2019

In India’s recently concluded 2019 national elections, under 10% of the candidates were women. This column examines the potential reasons behind this, and argues that improving women’s knowledge, self-confidence, voice, and mobility could have significant effects on their political participation. It finds no evidence of a role model effect whereby women winning in elections encourages future women candidates, however, and the evidence on whether quotas can improve future women’s political participation is inconclusive.

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