Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





David A. Jaeger

Committee Members

Theodore J. Joyce

Jonathan Conning

Subject Categories

Labor Economics


quota policies, affirmative action, education, politics, seat reservations


This dissertation is comprised of two chapters that investigate the long-term effects of a quota policy for women in local government in India.

In the first chapter, "Political Inclusion and Educational Investment," I investigate whether political empowerment can affect the human capital investment decisions of children. By using exogenous variation in the implementation of the policy, nationally-representative survey data allow me to estimate effects on educational enrollment in a geographic discontinuity design using adjacent areas on either side of a state border as counterfactuals receiving different levels of exposure to the quota policy.

In this paper, I find a sizable increase in the enrollment rates of both female and male school-age children resulting from additional exposure to local female leaders. I find that the effects are particularly concentrated among poorer households and those with less-educated proximate role models, and were commensurate with reductions in idle time and employment in household enterprises. There is no evidence for enrollment increases being facilitated by changes in school infrastructure, the labor market, or indicators related to intra-household dynamics. Overall, this paper makes a broader contribution to the literature in taking seriously the need to evaluate the external validity of experimental studies. Earlier work on this topic has focused on evaluating the same quota policy in a geographically restricted setting, with the added benefit of high internal validity but at the risk of the findings potentially being limited in their generalizability to the country as a whole. This chapter seeks to understand whether these earlier results do generalize, and if so, where and among which populations. While I find similar effects on enrollment among young women, I also find that the increase in scope reveals increases in enrollment among young men. This opens the potential for future work investigating the reasons for this response among young men.

The second chapter asks how the quota policy in local government affected participation and representation in higher levels of government over time. This study is motivated by the argument that quota policies have the potential to increase the participation of targeted groups even after they are no longer in place, or in environments not directly subject to quotas. I test this argument empirically using variation over a span of 15 years in the assignment of one-third of powerful leadership seats in Indian local government being randomly held by women. Quotas increase the number of female candidates who later contest seats in state and national legislatures, where such policies do not exist. The effects can be explained by repeat candidacies of career politicians (indirect evidence of a response to changed voter preferences) and new candidacies by politicians who gain particular experience from the quotas (a candidate supply effect). Effect magnitudes imply that the policy accounts for a substantial portion of the increase in female candidates in these bodies since the start of the policy. Quotas do not induce permanent change in the presence of female candidates in higher office due to the low probability of a female candidate winning an election, and effects on candidacy subsiding over time. This paper adds to the literature by evaluating the effect of quota policies on the broader occupation of political public service by taking a career-based view of the potential for quotas to have lasting effects on the individual beneficiaries and same-group members in the long term.

The two papers further elucidate the potential for quota policies to have effects beyond the immediate environments to which they are applied. Such evaluations are particularly important to fully understand the range of unintended consequences -- be they negative or positive -- of social and economic policies enacted in developing countries and among marginalized populations.