On Wednesday, June 1st, at 02.30pm (Lisbon time), the NOVAFRICA Center welcomes Meera Mahadevan from UC Irvine to present her work on Women Leaders Improve Environmental Outcomes: Evidence from Crop Fires in India.
Effective climate action requires leaders that implement pro-environmental policies. Survey evidence suggests that women have a greater concern for the environment. Yet, whether these concerns translate to policy changes when women are elected to political office is an open question. Using a close-election regression discontinuity design to isolate the impact of women narrowly being elected over male candidates, we find that the election of women legislators in India leads to a 15% decrease in crop-fire incidents. This is accompanied by a large and statistically significant decrease in air pollution for constituencies led by women, in particular black carbon, organic carbon, and SO2, all of which are precursors to PM2.5. These effects on crop fires and air pollution are predictably concentrated during the winter harvest and post-harvest months (December to April), with comparatively modest effects during the rest of the year. In falsification tests, we show no effects on crop fires or air pollution in the years prior to state elections.