Female voting behaviour in Pakistan

Promoting female empowerment through increased political participation remains a core policy challenge throughout the developing world. Past work has shown that political participation can serve to improve female specific public policy and service delivery in countries such as India and Brazil. However, there is a dearth of evidence on whether female voters reward such decisions through increased political participation and if female participation is independent of their male counterparts in the family or household.

This study will directly shed light on these policy questions by investigating information’s effect on increased female political participation and subsequent electoral outcome. Conventional wisdom in Pakistan is that male members of the households are the political decision makers. However, if women voters reward female specific public policy and service delivery, this information can affect the behaviour of politicians in future. This will incentivise elected policy makers to include women in politics, speeding up the process of female empowerment in Pakistan.

This experiment will change the information set of women voters. The randomisation will happen at the polling booth level while information dissemination will be at the individual level. We plan to include 400 polling booths in our experiment. This scheme allows measurement of the immediate effect of information through behavioural test and electoral effect by using aggregate vote share data.

The design will be cross-randomised with the same information being provided to male members of the household in some areas. This will demonstrate whether women act individually in political decisions or if the household functions as one unit. Based on existing literature, our expectation is that women who contribute to the household income may act more individually indicating the complementarity between economic and political empowerment.

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