Is there higher growth in economic activity in constituencies that elect women?
There has been a phenomenal global increase in the proportion of women in politics in the last twenty years.
There is evidence that raising the share of women politicians has substantive impacts on the composition of government spending, but scarcely any evidence of how it influences economic performance.
We investigate this question using comprehensive data on competitive elections to India's state legislative assemblies, exploiting close elections between men and women to isolate the causal effect of legislator gender in a regression discontinuity design.
We identify significantly higher growth in economic activity in constituencies that elect women. Probing mechanisms, we find evidence that women legislators are less likely to be criminal and corrupt, more efficacious and less vulnerable to political opportunism. We find no evidence of negative spillovers from female-led to male-led constituencies, consistent with net gains in growth at the national level.