We analyze the effect of the introduction of gender quotas in candidate lists on the quality of elected politicians. We consider an Italian law which introduced gender quotas in local elections in 1993, and was abolished in 1995. As not all municipalities went through elections during the period the reform was in force, we can identify two groups of municipalities and use a Difference in Differences estimation to analyze the effect of gender quotas on the quality of elected politicians. We find that gender quotas are associated with a higher average number of years of schooling of elected politicians, with the effect ranging from 0.12 to 0.18 years of education. This effect is due not only to the higher number of elected women, who are on average more educated than their male colleagues, but also to the lower number of low-educated elected men. The positive effect on quality is confirmed also when we measure the latter with alternative indicators of the quality of politicians, it persists in the long run and it is robust to the inclusion of political ideology.
gender quotas municipal elections difference in differences average years of education