Date of Degree

9-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Economics

Advisor

Prabal De

Committee Members

Jonathan H. Conning

Karna Basu

Subject Categories

Econometrics | Health Economics | Political Economy

Keywords

neonatal survival probability, infant survival probability, reservation for women in decision making positions, district chairperson reservation, district-year seat share, close elections

Abstract

Chapter 1: Taking cognizance of the lack of representation of women in politics, the Indian government in 1993, enacted the 73rd constitutional amendment which led to a sudden increase in the representation of women in the local governments. Exploiting the exogenous variation in the timing of implementation of the 73rd amendment across the states, I study the spillover effects of this mandated empowerment of women on the health outcomes of children by using nationally representative survey data and employing a difference-in-difference estimation strategy. In this study, I find evidence of a positive impact of mandated women empowerment on the survival outcomes of higher birth order children. I also find evidence of increased birth spacing as the possible mechanism through which the increased representation of women in the local government leads to the improvement in the survival outcomes of children. Findings also suggests that the reservation at all levels of the local government is not equally effective and is mainly driven by the increased representation of women at the village level.

Chapter 2: In this paper, I investigate the impact of the change in the gender composition of politicians due to the improved electoral performance of women in state-level elections in India on the survival outcomes of children. Early childhood mortality in India has been a matter of concern as it is among the countries which report high neonatal and infant mortality. The lack of decent healthcare facilities coupled with the cultural and social norms which dictate the preference for boy children have led to inferior health outcomes for the higher birth-order children, especially girl children. In this paper, I postulate that an improvement in the representation of women in a male-dominated decision-making position leads to better healthcare infrastructure and policies and a reduction in bias against women stemming from social and cultural norms and thus improves the early childhood mortality outcomes of children. I use a health survey data consisting of information about the reproductive history of mothers who gave birth in the period 1990-to 2015 and combine it with the data on the electoral performance of women in state legislative assembly elections conducted within the period 1989-to 2014 to examine the impact of a change in the gender composition of politicians at the district level on the neonatal and infant survival outcomes of the children born within each election-cycle in the respective districts. To correct for the endogeneity concerns arising out of the unobserved voter preferences, I exploit the quasi-randomness of women’s victories in close men-women elections using a regression discontinuity design. In contrast to previous research, I find that a change in the gender composition of politicians at the district level does not have an overall impact on the survival outcomes of children. Contrary to previous research, the findings also suggest that only girl children of higher birth order experience an improved neonatal survival probability relative to boys.

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