No.67 Do Local Gender Quotas Improve the Electability of Women at Higher Tiers? Evidence from a Survey Experiment in North India
Anjali Thomas, Charles Hankla, Sayan Banerjee, and Arindam Banerjee
Do local gender quotas have “spillover effects” for women’s electability at higher tiers? Using a conjoint survey experiment in the North Indian state of Bihar, this paper assesses how exposure to village-level female leaders elected through a gender quota affects voter support for state-level female candidates. Although it finds no evidence of spillover effects in the overall sample, it shows that exposure to local gender quotas generates a backlash amongst male respondents from relatively gender-empowered households. While these “partially progressive” men display a preference for state-level female candidates in the absence of a local female leader, exposure to local gender quotas eliminates this preference. This “multi-level representation backlash” may limit the utility of local quotas in promoting gender parity at higher levels. By contrast, there is no statistically significant evidence of a quota effect amongst female or conservative male respondents, whose views may be less susceptible to change.