Cornell University

This is a past event. Its details are archived for historical purposes.

The contact information may no longer be valid.

Please visit our current events listings to look for similar events by title, location, or venue.

Women v. The State: Experimental Evidence from Pakistan on the Gendered Usage of State and Traditional Courts

Monday, November 20, 2023 at 12:15pm

Uris Hall, G08
Central Campus

Talk by Sarah Thompson (Political Science, Stanford University)

In areas where traditional institutions rival the state, how does providing information regarding the quality of state services and whom they benefit induce individuals to use state fora, or continue with tradition? Findings from a combination of an experiment with 2,100 participants in Pakistan’s Newly Merged Districts who invest in state or nonstate legal aid funds and an original survey embedded within it indicate that social inequalities play a large role in determining compliance with the state’s laws. Men and women update favorably to state courts and away from a traditional method of dispute resolution after hearing about general improvements in courts’ efficiency. However, this effect for men goes away when explicitly making clear that women, who remain subjugated to men in the traditional system, will have equal rights in state proceedings. This study provides novel evidence on political behavior from 142 Pashtun villages in an underdeveloped and unstable area typically not accessible to researchers. My findings show that preexisting social inequalities can hinder state-building projects, and point to the distinct political preferences of men and women regarding traditional governance.

Sarah Thompson is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Stanford University. She utilizes causal inference methods (particularly field experiments and quasi-experimental methods) to research the politics of women and indigenous groups in South Asia and Latin America. She also works closely with policymakers in the field. Her dissertation examines why individuals choose traditional forms of governance over the state, and the impacts this has on security and access to justice.



Google Calendar iCal Outlook
Event Type



Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program, Government


asianstudiescal, fgsscal, govtcal



Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Gloria Lemus-Chavez

Contact Phone


Dept. Web Site

Open To


Recent Activity