Credit Groups, Women’s Political Engagement, and Public Goods Provision

Published on: 2016-04-27

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This academic seminar is co-organized with the Division of Social Science, HKUST.

Abstract / Seminar Summary

We study the role played by social networks in facilitating effective political participation by women. We focus on women’s membership in microcredit Self-Help Groups (SHGs), which might affect social network formation, yet, is presumably not directly related to their political behavior, and examine if this affects participation in local institutions of grassroots democracy in rural India. We show that membership in a SHG affects women’s attendance in village assemblies and the result survives various tests designed to address the threat of endogeneity. Using an IV approach, we also find that SHG membership significantly changed the gender composition of village assemblies in favor of women. This, in turn, resulted in more women-preferred public goods (such as water, sanitation, health) being provided by the village council. We also find that SHG membership results in increased activities for political parties suggesting long term political engagement of women. This study suggests that much of the influential impacts of SHGs seem to be in the social realm of women’s lives.

About the Speaker

Pushkar Maitra’s primary areas of research are Development Economics, Experimental Economics and Applied Econometrics. A large part of his research has tried to quantify the impact of institutions on both individuals and households. His current research focuses on evaluating alternative methods of providing credit to the rural poor, the effects of labour market training programs and the impacts of affirmative action programs. A large part of his current research is experimental in nature and involves rigorous econometric analysis of survey data sets.

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