Meera Mahadevan

“Given political deadlock in legislatures despite the extensive environmental degradation worldwide, proactive measures from local leaders could be crucial in addressing global issues like air pollution. However, despite the introduction of quotas for women in legislative assemblies in many countries (Pande and Ford 2012), as well as existing evidence that there exists a causal relationship between policy and identity (Osborne and Slivinski 1996, Besley and Coate 1997), and that women have a greater concern for the environment (McCright 2010, McCright and Dunlap 2011), we know extremely little about the impact of women leaders on local environmental outcomes. In a new study (Jagnani and Mahadevan 2023), we use data on fires in India and a close election regression discontinuity design to provide the first causal evidence that local women leaders improve environmental outcomes. To shed light on the reasons why women leaders reduce crop fire incidence, we surveyed 424 female and male village council leaders in Punjab, the state with the highest per capita incidence of crop fires in India.”

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