August 2016

IZA DP No. 10148: Women's Enfranchisement and Children's Education: The Long-Run Impact of the U.S. Suffrage Movement

While a growing literature has shown that empowering women leads to increased short-term investments in children, little is known about its long-term effects. We investigate the effect of women's political empowerment on children's human capital accumulation by exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in U.S. state and federal suffrage laws. We estimate that exposure to women's suffrage during childhood leads to large increases in educational attainment for children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, in particular blacks and Southern whites. An investigation into the mechanisms behind these effects suggests that the educational gains are plausibly driven by the rise in public expenditures following suffrage.