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Political Reservation for Women and Delivery of Public Works Program


Review of Development Economics

Published online on


We examine the impact of political reservations for women to analyze the effectiveness of female leaders in executing public works under NREGA, India's largest public works program. The 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution mandated that one third of Panchayat seats be randomly assigned to women. Using detailed data on Panchayat elections, employment, and public works expenditure for nine districts in Uttar Pradesh, we find female Panchayat leaders significantly increase the demand for work under NREGA. We also find that women leaders take up projects that directly benefit women, such as water control and harvesting. Finally, we find no difference between male and female leaders in generating employment or efficiently implementing public works under NREGA.