What effect do gender quotas have on political responsiveness? We examine the effect of randomly imposed electoral quotas for women in Mumbai’s city council, using a wide variety of objective and subjective measures of constituency-level public service quality. Quotas are associated with differences in the distribution of legislator effort, with quota members focusing on public goods distribution, while non-quota members focus on individual goods, member perks, and identity issues. These differences in effort seem to influence institutional performance: perceived quality of local public goods is higher in constituencies with quota members, and citizen complaints are processed faster in areas with more quota members. We suggest that men’s more extensive engagement with extralegal and rhetorical forms of political action has led to men and women cultivating different styles of political representation.
Best Paper in Urban or Regional Politics, APSA 2021