This study examines the impact of female leadership on parents’ aspirations for their children as well as adolescents’ aspirations for themselves, and whether such changes in aspirations can impact education and labor outcomes.
At the time of data collection in 2006 and 2007, two elections had been conducted since the constitutional amendment: in 1998 and 2003. Prior to each election, one third of the villages in the district were randomly selected to be “reserved” for women leaders. Because of the randomized nature of the assignment, in 2007, a village council could have been reserved for a female leader once (in 1998 or 2003), twice (in 1998 and 2003), or never, creating the opportunity to study the impact of different amounts of exposure to a female leader (often called the “dose response”).
In 2006 and 2007, researchers surveyed households in 495 randomly selected villages in the district of Birbhum in West Bengal. The survey was administered to one male and one female adult, as well as all adolescents, in each household. The questionnaire addressed educational attainment and time use in the last 24 hours. It also included four questions on parents’ aspirations for their children as well as adolescents’ aspirations for themselves: desired educational attainment, desired age of marriage, preferred occupation at the age of 25, and if the parent wished for their child to become a village leader or the child herself hoped to become a village leader.