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Impact of Female Leadership on Aspirations and Educational Attainment for Teenage Girls in India
Initial registration date
October 24, 2016
October 24, 2016 10:21 AM EDT
Other Primary Investigator(s)
International Monetary Fund
Additional Trial Information
Using a randomized natural experiment in India, we show that female leadership influences adolescent girls' career aspirations and educational attainment. In an effort to increase women's participation in politics, the constitution was amended in 1993 to require a random third of village council positions to be reserved for women. We conducted surveys with adolescents aged between 11 to 15 and their parents and found that the presence of a female leader in the village: significantly increased parents' aspirations for their daughters, led to a decrease in the gender gap in aspirations - 25% in parents and 32% in adolescents, and led to a reduction in the amount of time girls spent on household chores for two election cycles (1998 and 2003). We found no evidence of changes in young women's labor market opportunities, which suggests that the impact of women leaders has a role model effect.
Beaman, Lori et al. 2016. "Impact of Female Leadership on Aspirations and Educational Attainment for Teenage Girls in India." AEA RCT Registry. October 24.
The treatment groups consist of villages that have had the village council position randomly reserved for a female. Between 1998, when the system was implemented, and 2007, when data was collected, the village council position could have been reserved for a woman once (in 1998 or 2003), twice (in 1998 and 2003), or never.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Adolescent's aspirations for self, parental aspirations for son/daughter, Educational attainment, Time spent on household chores, Labor market opportunities
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The gender gap between adolescent girls' and boys' aspirations and educational attainment was also measured.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
This study took advantage of a large-scale randomized natural experiment in India, where a law was passed that required randomly selected villages to reserve leadership positions in the village councils for females. This quickly increased the number of women in leadership positions at the village level.
Experimental Design Details
The study exploits a natural experiment, and so the random selection of the villages into treatment groups was done by the Indian government prior to any researcher involvement. Prior to an election, village council positions in a district were randomly assigned across three lists to ensure some positions are reserved for disadvantaged minorities: Reserved for scheduled castes (SC), Reserved for scheduled tribes (ST), and Unreserved. Within a list, village councils are ordered by serial number. In 1998, every third council starting with number one on each list was required to be reserved for a woman. In 2003 every third council starting with number two on each list.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
8,453 individuals surveyed; including parents of adolescents and adolescents themselves.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Once-reserved: 213 villages
Twice-reserved: 60 villages
Never-reserved: 222 villages
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
MIT Committee on the Use of Humans as Experimental Subjects
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
December 31, 2003, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
December 31, 2007, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
8453 individuals surveyed; including parents of adolescents and adolescents themselves.
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Once-reserved - 213 villages
Twice-reserved - 60 villages
Never-reserved - 222 villages
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Exploiting a randomized natural experiment in India, we show that female leadership influences adolescent girls' career aspirations and educational attainment. A 1993 law reserved leadership positions for women in randomly selected village councils. Using 8453 surveys of adolescents aged 11 to 15 and their parents in 495 villages, we found that, relative to villages in which such positions were never reserved, the gender gap in aspirations closed by 20% in parents and 32% in adolescents in villages assigned a female leader for two election cycles (1998 and 2003). The gender gap in adolescent educational attainment was erased, and girls spent less time on household chores. We found no evidence of changes in young women's labor market opportunities, which suggests that the impact of women leaders primarily reflects a role model effect.
Beaman, Lori, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande, and Petia Topalova. 2012. "Female Leadership Raises Aspirations and Educational Attainment for Girls: A Policy Experiment in India." Science 355(2012): 582-586.
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS