Panel Paper: Safer Elections and Women Turnout: Evidence from India

Friday, April 7, 2017 : 9:20 AM
Founders Hall Room 478 (George Mason University Schar School of Policy)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Divya Singh, Columbia University
Turnout in elections may affect the distribution of public goods in the equilibrium when voters have heterogeneous preferences. In this paper, I measure the effect of improving security at the polling booths intended to prevent electoral malpractices on electoral and political outcomes during an election in one of the major states in India. In particular, I use Regression Discontinuity Design. Using a novel dataset, I find that women turnout increases by 2 percentage points per booth. However enhancing security has no effect on male turnout. As a consequence, incumbent’s vote share falls and the main challenger party gains. The findings indicate that the vote share of the candidates with some indication of corruption in the office falls. I also find that female candidates fare worse and ‘criminal’ candidates gain vote share. Overall, the evidence is consistent with the hypothesis of women being ‘change agents’ and anti-corruption. Moreover, these findings are also evidence of gender and ability bias in womens’ voting