Sunday, August 31, 2008

Consequence of reservation for women in elections

Reservation for women has been done at the Gram Panchayat level and is proposed at other levels of government. People who like empowerment of women, handed down by the State, generally think this is a good thing.

Reservation is implemented in various seats by rotation. One consequence of this is often the lack of interest of elected women in getting re-elected. A woman who won a seat that's reserved-for-women knows for sure that in the next election, there will be no reservation for that seat. As a consequence, the threat of elections fails to induce accountability. These women are often more focused on harvesting private benefits of office, and less on pleasing voters. It always sounded, to me, as another episode where a powerful urge to do good crowded out hard thinking.

In an article on VoxEU: Democracy and accountability: The perverse effects of term limits, Paola Conconi, Nicolas Sahuguet and Maurizio Zanardi examine a similar situation: the behaviour of a politician who can't run for elections once again owing to term limits.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Ajay,

    Love the blog.

    You've probably already read this paper, but Duflo and Chattopadhyay (http://econ-www.mit.edu/files/792)exploit the randomness in assignments of sarpanch seats to women to evaluate this, and other, claims. it's been a while since i read the paper, but as i recall they find no evidence of a "term limit" effect on the performance of women sarpanches.

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