Gender and Corruption: the latest ANTICORRP research

In the last months, several ANTICORRP researchers, based at the Quality of Government Institute at the University of Gothenburg investigated the issue of gender and corruption. They approached the issue from different angles and published several papers on it, covering questions such as: Are women are less corrupt than men and Who suffers most from corruption- men or women?

In an ANTICORRP deliverable, Lena Wängnerud compares case studies on cross-country and sub-national level to explore the links between gender and corruption, both on an elite and citizen level. She finds that gender matters, for instance, when it comes to tolerance for corruption, but that this gender gap varies greatly across Europe and is associated with the norms and cultures of government institutions. She also finds that merely increasing the number of women in positions of power is no “quick fix” to corruption, but it might be a start for a policy change. In another paper, Wängnerud and Marcia Grimes  look specifically at the case of Mexico. They use subnational survey data by Transparencia Mexicana to compare corruption levels over time and how they relate to the number of women in government. Their results suggest that levels of corruption affect women’s ability to enter the political arena, but that once in political office, the presence of women in government contributes to reducing corruption.

In another paper, Perspectives on Gender and Corruption, Mattias Agerberg , uses regional data on governance in Europe, collected by the Quality of Governance Institute, to explore gender differences in regard to corruption in Europe from an individual and institutional perspective. He finds that women, on average, perceive corruption levels as worse, report paying fewer bribes, and have a lower tolerance for corrupt behavior. These gender differences seem to exist in basically all countries included in the study. His study also argues that a larger share of locally elected female politicians might have positive effects on the regional quality of governance. Helena Stensöta, Lena Wängnerud and Richard Svensson look at the relationship of gender and corruption in the context of different institutional contexts. They argue that the effect of gender on corruption is weaker in the state administration than in the legislative arena, because the bureaucratic administrative logic absorbs actors’ personal characteristics. To validate their theory, they used data provided by the European Commission (EC), covering the EC countries, and original data from the Quality of Government Institute Expert Surveys. Based on the data, they also theorized that the stronger the bureaucratic principles are in the administration, the less gender matters for the quality of governance.

Lena Wängnerud’s work was also published in a chapter of the Routledge Handbook of Political Corruption (ed. Paul Heywood). QoG research was also quoted in a recent policy brief by the U4 Anti-Corruption Research Centre on The Gendered Impact of Corruption: Who suffers more – men or women?

These studies of ANTICORRP researchers are providing much needed evidence for the relationship between gender and corruption. They continue to advance knowledge in the growing field of anti-corruption literature.

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