Esther Duflo

Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a India-Wide Randomized Policy Experiment

This paper uses political reservations for women in India to study the impact of women’s leadership on policy decisions. Since the mid 1990’s, one third of Village Council head positions in India have been randomly reserved for a woman: In these councils only women could be elected to the position of head. Village Councils are responsible for the provision of many local public goods in rural areas. Using a data set we collected on 265 Village Councils in West Bengal and Rajasthan, we compare the type of public goods provided in reserved and unreserved Villages Councils. Read more »

Powerful Women: Does Exposure Reduce Bias?

We exploit random assignment of gender quotas across Indian village councils to investigate
whether having a female chief councillor affects public opinion towards female leaders.
Villagers who have never been required to have a female leader prefer male leaders and perceive
hypothetical female leaders as less effective than their male counterparts, when stated
performance is identical. Exposure to a female leader does not alter villagers' taste preference
for male leaders. However, it weakens stereotypes about gender roles in the public Read more »

Putting Band-Aid on a Corpse: Incentives for Nurses in the Indian Public Health Care System

The Indian Health Care system is plagued by high staff absence; low effort by the providers; and limited use by potential beneficiaries, who prefer private alternatives. This paper reports the results of an experiment carried out with a district administration and a nongovernmental organization (NGO). Read more »

Unappreciated Service: Performance, Perceptions, and Women Leaders in India

This paper studies the impact of reservation for women on the performance of policy makers and on voters’ perceptions of this performance. Since the mid 1990’s, one third of Village Council head positions in India have been randomly reserved for a woman: In these councils only women could be elected to the position of chief. Read more »

The Impact of Reservation in the Panchayati Raj:Evidence from a Nationwide Randomized Experiment

This paper summarizes findings from a research project on local decentralization conducted in two districts of West Bengal and Rajasthan, India. The findings establish that the reservation policy (for scheduled castes and women), introduced as a tool to ensure adequate representation in panchayats, also assists in adequate delivery of local public goods to disadvantaged groups.

Why Political Reservations?

Many countries are amending their political systems to set aside positions to groups,such as women and racial or religious minorities, that are perceived as being disadvantaged.Using evidence from India, this article assesses the case for these reservations.

Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India

Many efforts to improve school quality by adding school resources have proven to be ineffective. This paper presents the results of two experiments conducted in Mumbai and Vadodara, India, designed to evaluate ways to improve the quality of education in urban slums. Read more »

Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School

This paper combines a randomized experiment and a structural model to test whether monitoring and financial incentives can reduce teacher absence and increase learning. In 57 schools in India, randomly chosen out of 113, a teacher’s daily attendance was verified through photographs with time and date stamps, and his salary was made a non-linear function of his attendance. Read more »

Health Care Delivery in Rural Rajasthan

There is surprisingly little information about the delivery of health care in rural India, and about the relationship, if any, between health care and health status. Read more »

Pitfalls of Participatory Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Education in India

Participation of beneficiaries in the monitoring of public services is increasingly seen as key to improving their efficiency. Read more »