Credit Groups, Women’s Political Engagement and Public Goods Provision
We examine whether membership in Self-Help Groups (SHGs), the predominant type of microcredit group in India, affects women's political engagement via attendance in village assemblies, participation in political party activities, and membership in village level political committees. We also examine the influence of women's village assembly attendance on public goods provision by the village council. Using pan-Indian survey data and an IV approach, we find that SHG membership increases women's attendance in village assemblies. This improves the gender composition of village assemblies in women's favour, which in turn changes the composition of public goods provided by village councils towards more women preferred ones. Membership of microcredit groups also leads to increased long term political engagement of women. Microcredit groups, therefore, contribute to “democratic deepening” by indirectly promoting the participation of women in political institutions and processes.