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Using exogenous geographic variation in exposure to 1993 reforms that introduced seat quotas for women in local government in India, I find a sizable increase in the enrollment rate of male and female school-age children resulting from additional exposure to women leaders. Effects are particularly concentrated among poorer households and those with less- educated proximate role models, and were commensurate with reductions in idle time and household-enterprise employment. There is no evidence for the effects being facilitated by changes in school infrastructure, the labor market, or among broader social factors related to intrahousehold bargaining. Using textual data from the news media and information on women's candidacy in parliamentary elections, I argue that evidence points to the primacy of the effect of women leaders on young women, and that effects among men are in response to changes in young women's enrollment. These dynamic effects on men could potentially be explained either through a signaling model of human capital investment, or by demand for an eventual education differential among married couples.


This paper is Working Paper 4 (Revised) in the Working Paper Series of the Ph.D. Program in Economics at the Graduate Center, CUNY. It is also available via RePEc:

This file is the revised version of the paper; the original version was published in November 2014.

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