Nav: Home

Study finds less corruption in countries where more women are in government

June 14, 2018

A greater representation of women in the government is bad news for corruption, according to a new study published in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization by researchers Chandan Jha of Le Moyne College and Sudipta Sarangi of Virginia Tech.

In a cross-country analysis of over 125 countries, this study finds that corruption is lower in countries where a greater share of parliamentarians are women. The study further finds that women's representation in local politics is important too - the likelihood of having to bribe is lower in regions with a greater representation of women in local-level politics in Europe.

"This research underscores the importance of women empowerment, their presence in leadership roles and their representation in government, said Sarangi, an economics professor and department head at Virginia Tech. "This is especially important in light of the fact that women remain underrepresented in politics in most countries including the United States."

Less than a quarter of the members of the U.S. Senate are women and only 19 percent of the women in the U.S. House of Representatives are women. It is also noteworthy that the United Stated never had a women head or president.

The authors speculate that women policymakers are able to have an impact on corruption because they choose different policies from men. An extensive body of prior research shows that women politicians choose policies that are more closely related to the welfare of women, children, and family.

The relationship is robust to the inclusion of a number of other control variables including economic, cultural, and institutional factors. The study also uses a statistical technique, known as the Instrumental Variable analysis, to account for the confounding factors and to establish causality in the relationship. After all it is possible that it is corruption that drives women's participation in politics and not the other way around!

The authors maintain that while the gender-corruption relationship has been studied before, the previous studies suffered from the critique that the relationship between women's representation in government and corruption was not shown to be causal.

Jha and Sarangi's research is the most comprehensive study on this topic and looks at the implications of the presence of women in other occupations as including the shares of women in the labor force, clerical positions, and decision making positions such as the CEOs and other managerial positions. The study finds that women's presence in these occupations is not significantly associated with corruption, suggesting that it is the policymaking role through which women are able to have an impact on corruption.

Sometimes it is believed that the relationship between gender and corruption may disappear as women gain similarity in social status. This is presumably because as the status of women improves, they get access to the networks of corruption and at the same time learn the know-how of engaging in corrupt activities. The results of this study, however, indicate otherwise: the relationship between women's representation in parliament and corruption is stronger for countries where women enjoy a greater equality of status. Once again, this finding further suggests that it's policymaking through which women are able to impact corruption.

Jha and Sarangi's study warns that these results do not necessarily mean that women are inherently less corrupt. In fact, their findings suggest otherwise. If women are indeed less corrupt, then there should be a significant negative correlation between all these measures of female participation and corruption.

The policy implications of the study point towards the need for promoting gender equality in general and promoting the presence of women in politics in particular. Previous research has established that a greater presence of women in government is associated with better education and health outcomes.
-end-


Virginia Tech

Related Social Status Articles:

How status sticks to genes
Life at the bottom of the social ladder may have long-term health effects that even upward mobility can't undo, according to new research in monkeys.
Cold temperatures linked to high status
Researchers have discovered that people associate cold temperatures with luxury items, which is important for companies that are trying to promote products that convey high status.
Social media stress can lead to social media addiction
Social network users risk becoming more and more addicted to social media platforms even as they experience stress from their use.
Cooperation with high status individuals may increase one's own status
While other animals tend to gain status through aggression, humans are typically averse to allowing such dominant individuals to achieve high status.
Legal status no guarantee of job security
Legal status is no guarantee that migrants will find more security in the workplace, according to a new study published in the journal Migration Letters.
Pheromones and social status: Machos smell better
Male house mice are territorial and scent-mark their territories with urine -- and dominant, territorial males have much greater reproductive success than other males.
Migrants face a trade-off between status and fertility
Researchers from the universities of Helsinki, Turku and Missouri as well as the Family Federation of Finland present the first results from a new, extraordinarily comprehensive population-wide dataset that details the lives of over 160,000 World War II evacuees in terms of integration.
Salad, soda and socioeconomic status: Mapping a social determinant of health in Seattle
Seattle residents who live in waterfront neighborhoods tend to have healthier diets compared to those who live along Interstate-5 and Aurora Avenue, according to new research on social disparities from the University of Washington School of Public Health.
Genetic polymorphisms and zinc status
Zinc is an essential component for all living organisms, representing the second most abundant trace element, after iron.
Baboon sexes differ in how social status gets 'under the skin'
A growing body of evidence shows that those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are more likely to die prematurely than those at the top.
More Social Status News and Social Status Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Risk
Why do we revere risk-takers, even when their actions terrify us? Why are some better at taking risks than others? This hour, TED speakers explore the alluring, dangerous, and calculated sides of risk. Guests include professional rock climber Alex Honnold, economist Mariana Mazzucato, psychology researcher Kashfia Rahman, structural engineer and bridge designer Ian Firth, and risk intelligence expert Dylan Evans.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#540 Specialize? Or Generalize?
Ever been called a "jack of all trades, master of none"? The world loves to elevate specialists, people who drill deep into a single topic. Those people are great. But there's a place for generalists too, argues David Epstein. Jacks of all trades are often more successful than specialists. And he's got science to back it up. We talk with Epstein about his latest book, "Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.