article by Raghabendra Cattyopadhyay and Esther Duflo

In this study, Esther Duflo and Raghabendra Chattopadhyay compare how women spend and how men spend when they’re in positions of leadership in India. They find that women are more prone to spending more on things that they’re typically in charge of, such as clean water. When the women are in charge, then, outcomes on some important measures like sanitation can improve, because someone’s paying more attention to those aspects.


This paper uses political reservations for women in India to study the impact of women's leadership on policy decisions. 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 head. Village Councils are responsible for the provision of many local public goods in rural areas. Using a dataset we collected on 265 Village Councils in West Bengal and Rajasthan, we compare the type of public goods provided in reserved and unreserved Village Councils. We show that the reservation of a council seat affects the types of public goods provided. Specifically, leaders invest more in infrastructure that is directly relevant to the needs of their own genders.



Raghabendra Chattopadhyay and Esther Duflo (2004). “Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India.” Econometrica Vol. 72, No. 5, pp. 1409-1443 (35 pages)