Panel Paper: Crimes Against Women in India: Evaluating the Effects of a Representative Police Force

Friday, November 3, 2017
Stetson D (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Garima Siwach, American Institutes for Research

It is widely reported that crimes against women in India have been increasing over the last few decades. Although this observation is difficult to confirm because of bias in crime reporting, it is often perceived that law and order in India perform poorly for many reasons including poor infrastructure, large and varied demography, and cultural attitudes shaping the police system. In the year 2014, the Ministry of Women and Child Development urged all states to enforce a 33% reservation for women in the police force, when women actually comprised a mere 6.1% of the total police force in India. Although the theory of representative bureaucracy suggests that this a relevant step to reduce violence against women, there is no empirical evidence on the performance of police in India on this front. In this paper, I evaluate the effects of increasing women's participation in the police force on crimes against women in India. I use state-level yearly data from 2001 to 2012 and also explore rank-wise effects of the police force on different forms of crimes against women. I deal with the issue of reporting bias by focusing on arrests instead of reported incidences. Results suggest that increasing women's representation at particular ranks have a significantly positive impact on arrests made for crimes against women, with no evidence on adverse impact on other crimes. Heterogeneity in effect sizes and policy implications are also discussed.