Women's Political Participation and Representation in India
In India there persists a striking gender gap in political participation and representation, despite several decades of targeted policy interventions. We know little about how to increase women’s political participation and electoral representation as well as about the link between women’s path to participation/representation and their policy priorities thereafter. This leaves us asking: How do women in developing contexts become active political agents and representatives? How do women organize politically and what does this mean for the execution and performance of local politics and economic development?

Strength in Numbers: How Women's Groups Close India's Political Gender Gap
(Abstract) (Paper)

In India there persists a striking gender gap in political participation. Women's political participation is important both on normative grounds of inclusion and because when women do participate, politics changes. I present a theoretical model of women’s political behavior arguing that women's lack of political participation is the result of constraints on political coordination, particularly outside the household. I then evaluate the effects of expanding women’s social networks by leveraging a natural experiment that created as-if random variation in access to women’s credit collectives. Women who participated in this program were significantly more active in local politics - women's attendance at local public meetings doubles. I show evidence of three possible mechanisms underlying this network effect: (1) increased capacity for collective action, (2) information, and (3) civic skills. These findings contribute to our understanding of how social networks affect individual political behavior and underlie gendered inequalities in political participation.

Is Knowledge Power?: Civics Training, Women’s Political Representation, and Local Governance in India
(Abstract) (Pre-Analysis Plan)

Given the persistent gender gap in political participation and representation in India despite several decades of targeted policy interventions, I evaluate the use of political information via gender-oriented civics education at increasing women's political representation. Through a gender-oriented civics training implemented by the NGO Pradan, women will receive information about the political system and their rights and entitlements within this system and will be directly exposed to existing political institutions, with the aim of reducing informational barriers to political participation.

Collective Action as a Pathway to Gender Equality: A study of women’s groups in India (with Julia Lowe and Nivedita Narain)

For decades women in India remained absent from public life and outsiders from political institutions. More recently, rapid economic growth, political reservations, and social empowerment have produced a “silent revolution” in the role of women in public life. Often, this silent revolution has come in the form of collective action amongst women. A burgeoning literature demonstrates the importance of community wide consequences of localized women’s movements (Ray 1999, Sanyal 2009, Artiz Prillaman 2016) but has yet to fully develop the pathways to normative change for both men and women (Kabeer 1994, 1999). Our current understanding further tends to minimize and under-characterize women’s experiences, even as they struggle and organize to recreate their identities as citizens. This paper takes a first step in documenting one pathway to change – that through collective action – by understanding the women’s experiences with collective action and it’s consequences for broader social and political norms, particularly in terms of the normative constraints imposed on women. We focus on the particular impact of women’s participation in Self-Help Groups (SHGs) – small collectives of women regularly meeting – coordinated by the NGO Pradan to evaluate the effect of such institutionalized collective action on both participant gender attitudes and broader cultural norms around women’s social and political behaviour. We evaluate data from interviews with 120 women and 80 men and community leaders across 20 villages in rural Madhya Pradesh, stratifying on participation in and availability of SHGs, to document and explain variation in perceived and experienced gender norms. Overall, this study aims to link the sociological study of gender norms with theories of collective action and women’s movements. Acknowledging positionality, we recognize the narrowness of perspectives and the importance of diversity in current research. Insights from (marginal) women and men’s voices will help to shed light on deep-seated barriers to accessing spaces associated with public life (Cornwall, 2007) and the evolution of community norms. It will additionally deepen our understanding of the efficacy of development interventions in reducing gender inequalities via gender norms.

Measuring Women's Political Participation and Collective Action in Rural India (with Madhu Khetan, Julia Lowe, and Nivedita Narain)

We conduct a measurement study to identify effective, context-specific, cost-effective ways of measuring local collective action and political participation in India, with a key focus on the role of gender. To solve existing measurement challenges, we will evaluate the use of existing community institutions - namely SHGs - to collect these data. Often the biggest challenge is collecting context relevant data in a cost effective manner and furthermore, researchers often lack important local information that can facilitate measurement. Our study aims to create innovating data collection systems by utilizing local knowledge and in turn empower female community members in the process of data collection.

When Women Mobilize: Women's Political Engagement, Representation, and Policy Outcomes

This paper studies the consequences of the way that women reach political office by looking at the intersection of women’s political participation and electoral representation in shaping local politics and service delivery. Specifically, I focus on local governments in the India state of Madhya Pradesh, leveraging two natural experiments: the first creating arbitrary variation in women’s representation via gender reservations and the second creating induced variation in women’s political participation via the arbitrary allocation of a female-targeted welfare scheme. First, gender-based reservations for electoral office are mandated in the Indian constitution and quasi-randomly assigned by the state electoral commission. This paper leverages the assignment of gender reservations overlaid with as-if random variation in access to an NGO program shown previously to have a large and positive impact on women’s political participation to estimate the relationship between women’s political representation and women’s active political participation and resultant effects on governance and service delivery. This paper utilizes the positive shock to women’s political participation in villages that had received the NGO intervention, empirically shown in Artiz Prillaman (2016). It then compares administrative data on public goods provision and economic development across four types of villages: (1) villages with no gender reservation and low female political participation, (2) villages with no gender reservation and high female political participation, (3) villages with a gender reservation and low female political participation, and (4) villages with a gender reservation and high female political participation. This comparison elucidates the relationship between female political engagement, both as citizens and representatives, and local governance and development.

Prillaman, Soledad Artiz. "Unraveling the Persistent Political Gender Gap in Developing Countries." in Ahlquist, John, Megumi Naoi, and Christina Schneider (eds.) 2018. Newsletter of the Political Economy Organized Section of the American Political Science Association 14(2): 7-10.

Prillaman, Soledad Artiz. "The persistent gender gap in political participation in India." Ideas for India, 2019.

Adolescent Women's Labor Force Participation in India
Despite gains in female labor force participation globally, India has seen declines on this metric that raise important questions relevant to women’s future well-being. Constraints to poor, rural youths' labor market entry - including lack of information, skills, and support structures - are particularly strong for young women, who often are subject to gender-biased norms that further constrain their work, mobility, information, and access to networks. As a result, there is untapped demand for skilling and subsequent labor market entry among women, particularly in settings with very conservative gender norms. Given recent government commitments to providing job-linked vocational training to poor youth, a key question is how these programs can address underlying barriers to women's participation in vocational training and labor markets.

What Constrains Young Indian Women’s Labor Force Participation? Evidence from a Survey of Vocational Trainees (with Rohini Pande, Vartika Singh, and Charity Troyer Moore)
(Abstract) (Paper)

How do young men and women fare under India’s vocational (skills) training and job placement programs, and what constrains their subsequent job take-up and retention? Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) partnered with a large, government-funded skills training and job placement program to survey 2,610 former vocational trainees in 2016. We find a large male-favored gender gap in job placement: at 85%, young men are 13% points more likely than young women to receive a job offer. Young men are also 26% points more likely to accept jobs (with rates at 70% for males and 56% for females). We also identify high drop-out rates after vocational training: 74% of respondents who accepted a job after training had left it by the time of the survey (on average, 9 months after completing training), and only 20% of this group that had left their jobs were employed. Furthermore, there are stark gender differences in the reasons trained youth refuse jobs and subsequently drop out of the labor force. For young women, family concerns are the primary reason , while compensation and personal preferences are the primary reasons young men cite for refusing and leaving jobs after vocational training. However, for both young men and women, access to post-migration support is correlated with longer post-placement job tenure.

Can Community Recruiters Improve Young Women's Take-up of Skills Training?: A field experiment (with Rohini Pande and Charity Troyer Moore)
(Abstract) (Pre-Analysis Plan)

Given recent government commitments to providing job-linked vocational training to poor youth, a key question is how these programs can address underlying barriers to women's participation in vocational training and labor markets. We seek to evaluate vocational training recruitment strategies to alleviate these constraints, specifically examining whether female community leaders and improved information increase young women's vocational training take-up, labor market entrance, and retention outcomes.

Media coverage in India Spend; Business Standard; IGC Blog

Candidate Selection and Consequences in the Wake of Nepal's Local Elections
In 2015, Nepal adopted a new constitution, and in 2017 held its first local elections in 18 years. Under the new constitution, many governmental functions have been devolved from Kathmandu to the local level. These shifts present an unprecedented opportunity to understand the impact of decentralization and devolution of powers on governance and service delivery.

Does Revolution Work? Post-revolutionary evolution of Nepal’s political classes (with Bishma Bhusal, Michael Callen, Saad Gulza, Rohini Pande, and Deepak Singhania)

Decentralization bears the promise of more representative and accountable democratic institutions. In many countries, particularly new and developing democracies, this vision of decentralization has yet to be realized, instead yielding more extractive and corrupt institutions. Can new democracies generate institutions that are both representative and effective? As one of the world’s most ambitious decentralization processes, Nepal’s recent political transformation provides a useful laboratory to evaluate the consequences of decentralization in a new and developing democracy. In 2015, in the wake of the decade-long Maoist People’s War, Nepal abolished its 240-year-old monarchy and established a new constitution formalizing Nepal’s political structure as a federal republic. The 2017 local elections in Nepal innaugurated this decentralization process, ushering into elected office more than 30,000 newly elected representatives. Using a census of 3.68 million Nepalis across eleven districts, party nomination lists, and data on the universe of candidates and elected politicians, we provide a comprehensive documentation of patterns of political selection in Nepal’s first local elections. We show that politicians are positively selected relative to both the population and their respective clans, being significantly more educated and richer than the population they represent. Politicians are also generally representative of the population in terms of Caste and gender. This representativeness, however, is largely the result of political reservations. Furthermore, elitism does not substantially drive political selection: belonging to historically elite castes is only weakly correlated with being a candidate in these elections and this relationship is absent among candidates from the Maoist party, consistent with Maoist ideology. We then compare these recent patterns of selection with electoral outcomes from local elections conducted under monarchic rule in 1992. These historic elections resulted in relatively less representative institutions, where almost no women and few Dalits gained representation. Remarkably, modern Nepal bears a closer resemblance to consolidated Western democracies, achieving both meritocratic and generally inclusive political institutions. We argue and suggestively demonstrate that this is in part the result of Maoist influence on the Constitutional process.

Demand for and Distributive Consequences of Social Policies
Prillaman, Soledad Artiz and Kenneth J. Meier. 2014. "Taxes, Incentives, and Economic Growth: Assessing the Impact of Pro-business Taxes on U.S. State Economies." Journal of Politics 76(2): 364-379.
(Abstract) (Paper) (Replication Materials)(Media Coverage in LSE USAPP Blog)
State fiscal policy frequently focuses on stimulating a healthy business environment with the assumption that this is linked with long-term economic growth. The conventional wisdom is that a state’s tax rates are negatively correlated with economic development, prompting states to decrease business-targeted taxes to stimulate the economy. Surprisingly, however, very few studies have documented the long-term effects of these tax policies on different facets of the state economy and overall business atmosphere. In short, we do not know how the level of business taxation actually affects the economies of states. Using panel data for all 50 U.S. states from 1977 to 2005, this article examines the impact of state business taxes on the overall economic position of the state, specifically looking at their effect on economic development and business growth. With an elaborate set of controls, the article finds that state business tax cuts have little to no positive impact on gross state product, job creation, personal income, poverty rates, and business establishments.

Prillaman, Soledad Artiz. 2017. "The Micro-Foundations of Non-Contributory Social Policy in Latin America." In Social Policies and Decentralization in Cuba: Change in the Contest of 21st Century Latin America, ed. Jorge I. Domínguez, María del Carmen Zabala Argüelles, Mayra Espina Prieto, and Lorena Barberia. Cambridge, MA: David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and Harvard University Press.
(Abstract) (Book)

Social policy in Latin America has long been marked by a division between policy "insiders" and "outsiders", as defined by highly segmented labor markets. Prior to the late 1990's, social policy in Latin America was dominated by social insurance programs targeted exclusively at workers within the formal economy. As a result of this formal sector targeting, over 20% of the labor force in Latin America was not covered by social insurance programs. In the late 1990's and early 2000's a major shift in the targeting of social policies occurred with the introduction of non-contributory pensions, universal health coverage, and conditional cash transfer programs. What allowed for this erosion of traditionally cemented boundaries and the expansion of benefits to the informally employed? This paper argues that the end of protectionist economic policy led to a restructuring of industry and employment that broke down the barrier between the formal and the informal labor markets. As a result, the entrenched interests of the "insiders" saw marked changes in recent decades as formal labor force employees faced greater risk of unemployment and movement out of the formal labor force. This increased uncertainty over formal employment opportunities shifted the preferences of this politically salient population towards less corporatist social policies and instead towards more universal and redistributive social policies. Coupled with the surge in political participation of the "outsiders" as a result of democratization, this created a new left coalition capable of fundamental social policy change. Ultimately, this paper argues that non-contributory social policy implementation was the result of a shift in preferences of a politically pivotal group -- at-risk formal workers -- reacting in an economically self-interested way to changes in the structure of the economy, combined with a shift in power as the result of democratization.

Prillaman, Soledad Artiz and Jonathan Phillips. Forthcoming. "How the Labor Force is Mobilized: Patterns in Informality, Political Networks, and Political Linkages in Brazil." In Political Economy of Informality in BRIC countries, ed. Santiago Lopez-Cariboni, Edward Mansfield, and Nita Rudra. Singapor: World Scientific Publishing.
(Abstract) (Paper)

The 40-60% of Latin American workers in the informal sector experience the state very differently from their formal counterparts. But they also experience the political process in a markedly different way. As a result of their historical and spatial marginalization, economic vulnerability, and institutional barriers, informal workers have been mobilized into very different political networks. Yet in recent decades the boundary between the formal and informal labor forces has blurred. Workers transitioning into/out of formality find themselves exposed (1) to new sources of information about politicians and the experiences of other citizens; (2) to political actors with different motivations and resources; and (3) to new kinds of political ideas, technologies and promises. This chapter descriptively documents the relationship between informality and political experience, with a particular focus on how labor market status shapes access to political networks. It additionally highlights the important spatial variation in the concentration of informality and documents the descriptive correlation of this variation with the nature of political ties and linkages. As a result, this chapter provides one of the first approaches to understanding informality as both an individual and a collective identity.

Let Them Eat Tax Credits: The distributional implications of state tax policy. (with Kenneth J. Meier)

State politicians wield substantial power over the distribution of income through their control of tax policy. As a result who bears the burden of taxes has long been a question of significant interest. Given the range of taxes that are set and implemented at the state level, the relationship between changes in tax policy and income inequality has important policy implications. Most scholarship focuses on the link between tax policy and the post-tax income distribution. However, this fails to capture how taxes shape market behavior and market inequality. Our focus on the relationship between tax policy and the pre-tax income distribution steps away from a simple understanding of how taxes may be used to redistribute income through their progressivity towards a deeper understanding of how public policy shapes incentives, behavior, and the market. How does the composition of tax policy ultimately affect income inequality and when does tax policy benefit the poor not only in design but also in practice? We argue that as states look to cut or raise taxes, the manner in which states choose their bundle of taxes and set tax policy will have significant distributional effects. Because changes to tax policy bear heavily on the delivery of public services, how the revenue is spent is also important for the resultant distribution of income. To evaluate these questions, we use the panel of U.S. states from 1980-2010 to analyze the relationship between the changes in tax policy and income inequality, considering also the role of the composition of expenditures in mediating this relationship.