Electoral institutions, women's representation, and policy outcomes (2022, with Ayumi Sudo. Draft available upon request)
Do electoral institutions affect the degree to which female legislators address women’s interests in legislative processes? While the growing literature has examined whether increased women’s representation causally affects policy outcomes, whether electoral institutions mediate the effect is less known. To fill the gap, this study tests whether proportional representation (PR) encourages female representatives to address women-specific interests more than a single-member district (SMD) does. To elicit the causal impact of electoral institutions, we leverage the unique “best loser” provision of the mixed electoral system in the Japanese House of Representatives elections, where a marginal candidate may win an SMD seat or PR seat by chance. To fully account for the complex structure of the mixed electoral system, we apply the simulation-based regression discontinuity design. Across different legislative activities, we consistently find a significant effect of holding a PR seat: female PR representatives more frequently affiliate with women-related committees, submit question memorandums on women’s issues, and endorse petitions regarding women’s interests than their male counterparts, but significantly less so when they stand as SMD representatives. The institutional effect likely arises because a SMD representative has higher incentives to address issues both male and female voters care about. Such a vote-seeking strategy is not necessarily compatible with representing women-specific interests. Meanwhile, a PR representative earns their party’s reputation from female voters by addressing women-specific interests. Overall, our results suggest that electoral institutions do affect the relationship between women’s nominal representation and their policy consequences. More broadly, our findings bring forward the research agenda in political economics to better understand the political institutions and policy choices and, in particular, underscore the importance of institutional environments in leveraging diverse voices in policymaking.
Empowering Women Through Radio: Evidence from Occupied Japan (2021, submitted)
This study examines the impact of women's radio programs that the US-led occupying force aired in Japan (1945-1952) to dismantle the prewar patriarchal norms. Using local variation in radio signal strength driven by soil conditions as an instrumental variable, I provide causal evidence that greater exposure to women's radio programs increases women's electoral turnout, which further translates into a greater vote share for female candidates. This positive effect contributes to women's greater representation in the national legislature: had there not been women's radio programs in place, the number of female winners would have been halved. Moreover, exposure to women's radio programs contributes to a decline in fertility and therefore had an important implication for the nation's demographic transition. The declining fertility is due neither to an increase in women's career aspirations nor to a decline in marriages. My results are not driven by a preexisting correlation between radio signal strength and women's behavior before the US occupation. Although research shows that gender norms have historical roots and move slowly, my findings provide evidence that public policy can cut against them to promote equal participation in decision-making.
In Japanese: 週刊東洋経済 経済学者が読み解く現代経済のリアル（2021年3月20日号）
Intrahousehold Welfare: Theory and Application to Japanese Data (2021, with Pierre-André Chiappori and Costas Meghir)
Measuring individual-level well-being is crucial when we think about public policy, and existing literature has shown that substantial inequality is hidden within the household (Lise & Seitz, 2011). Earlier work has addressed such intra-household inequality, but it has yet to account for household public goods when measuring it. To shed light on this issue, we develop a new way to measure intra-household inequality that reflects individual well-being derived from household public goods. Using a collective household model, we defined the Money Metric Welfare Index (MMWI), which is essentially a monetary amount that a person would need to reach the current utility level if she were to pay the full price of household public goods. We show that the MMWI is uniquely identified up to an increasing transformation. Then we structurally estimate the collective household model and compute the MMWI using the Japanese Panel Survey of Consumers (JPSC). The JPSC is particularly suitable for our purpose because it provides variables that the MMWI requires, including expenditure for household public goods and time use. Estimated MMWI allows us to see how the intrahousehold inequality evolved in the last 20 years.
PublicationsYasuyuki Sawada, Hiroyuki Nakata, and Kunio Sekiguchi (2018), Economic Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 38(1), pages 89-97)William duPont IV, Ilan Noy, and Yasuyuki Sawada (2015), PLoS ONE 10(10))
Selected work in progress
Causes and consequences of the sex segregation in college major (with Mika Akesaka)
The origin of spatial inequality in access to physicians: evidence from early 20th century Japan (with Megumi Murakami and Chihiro Inoue)