The Effects of Female Mayors on Local Policy and Politics


Prior research shows a strong association between female politicians and the adoption of policies that support women’s interests. However, such evidence rests too heavily on observational data, as well as natural experiments that we should not necessarily generalize to broader electoral contexts. This paper examines the hypothesis that female politicians increase the provision of public goods to women’s constituencies. It also tests whether female politicians lead more women to seek office in subsequent elections. Investigating close elections between male and female candidates in Brazilian municipalities, I find that the election of female mayors in competitive elections has no causal effect on the provision of public goods (policy) or the number of female candidacies (politics). This evidence contrasts with ev- idence from India, suggesting the need for more research to uncover the mechanisms underlying the policy preferences of female politicians and associated consequences for women in the spheres of public good provision and women’s political participation.