Women in local politics and gender effects on entrepreneurship: evidence from Italian municipalities undergoing a gender quota reform

In this study, we investigate the influence of women’s representation in local politics on female self-entrepreneurship. Employing instrumental variable regressions that leverage the introduction of a gender quota reform in municipal elections, coupled with comprehensive panel municipality-level data on local politics and self-entrepreneurship, our findings reveal a significant and economically relevant positive within-gender impact. This suggests that the presence of females in local politics contributes to the promotion of female entrepreneurship. Furthermore, we utilize various indicators of gender equality within local contexts, both at the regional and municipal levels, to examine whether this within-gender impact varies in more versus less pro-gender environments. Our results indicate that the positive within-gender effect is substantially stronger in regions characterized by higher overall gender equality indexes. Additionally, municipalities with elevated female activity and employment rates, along with greater availability of childcare services, demonstrate a heightened positive impact on female entrepreneurship.