This paper analyses the long-term impacts of reservation of seats for women in the local body elections at the village level in India on children?s learning outcomes in rural Andhra Pradesh. Using the random rotation of seats reserved for women over different election cycles —1995; 2001; and 2006, and three rounds of a panel dataset —2002; 2007; and 2009, we analyse the impact of exposure to political reservation during critical periods of childhood. The paper shows that the reservation policy for female leaders had the largest impact on learning outcomes of primary school children when they were exposed to reservation very early in life. The results can be explained by improved health and nutrition in utero and during the first years of life. These results are suggestive of the impact women leaders have on child well-being in the long term.
This paper was presented at a conference on Inequalities in Children's Outcomes in Developing Countries hosted by Young Lives at St Anne's College, Oxford on 8-9 July 2013.