Working Paper | HBS Working Paper Series | 2016

PathBreakers? Women's Electoral Success and Future Political Participation

by Sonia Bhalotra, Irma Clots-Figueras and Lakshmi Iyer


We investigate whether the event of a woman being competitively elected as a state legislator encourages the subsequent political participation of women, using a regression discontinuity design on constituency level data from India. We find that female incumbents are more likely than male incumbents to re-contest and that there is a decline in the entry of new women candidates. This decline is most pronounced in states with entrenched gender bias and in male-headed parties, suggesting an intensification of barriers against women in these areas. Similar results for (mostly male) Muslim candidates indicate the presence of institutionalized demand-side barriers rather than gender-specific preferences and constraints.

Keywords: political participation; women; candidates; Gender bias; backlash; minority representation; regression discontinuity; india; Prejudice and Bias; Political Elections; Gender; Public Administration Industry; India;


Bhalotra, Sonia, Irma Clots-Figueras, and Lakshmi Iyer. "PathBreakers? Women's Electoral Success and Future Political Participation." Harvard Business School Working Paper, No. 14-035, November 2013. (Revised January 2016.)