Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Women’s Representation, Accountability and Corruption in Democracies

Abstract

At the turn of the twenty-first century, an important pair of studies established that greater female representation in government is associated with lower levels of perceived corruption in that government. But recent research finds that this relationship is not universal and questions why it exists. This article presents a new theory explaining why women’s representation is only sometimes related to lower corruption levels and provides evidence in support of that theory. The study finds that the women’s representation–corruption link is strongest when the risk of corruption being detected and punished by voters is high – in other words, when officials can be held electorally accountable. Two primary mechanisms underlie this theory: prior evidence shows that (1) women are more risk-averse than men and (2) voters hold women to a higher standard at the polls. This suggests that gender differences in corrupt behavior are proportional to the strength of electoral accountability. Consequently, the hypotheses predict that the empirical relationship between greater women’s representation and lower perceived corruption will be strongest in democracies with high electoral accountability, specifically: (1) where corruption is not the norm, (2) where press freedom is respected, (3) in parliamentary systems and (4) under personalistic electoral rules. The article presents observational evidence that electoral accountability moderates the link between women’s representation and corruption in a time-series, cross-sectional dataset of seventy-six democratic-leaning countries.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Department of Political Science, Rice University (email: justin@justinesarey.com); Department of Political Science, Rice University (email: schwindt@rice.edu). We would like to thank the participants and audiences at the numerous workshops and departmental colloquia where we presented this paper, including ‘Why is Gender Equality Good for Governance?’ at Freie Universitat, Berlin; the University of Tennessee; the University of Maryland; the Center for Women’s Leadership at Portland State University; the Quality of Government Institute at the University of Gothenburg; the European Conference on Politics and Gender in Uppsala, Sweden; and ITAM, Mexico City. We also thank Margit Tavits for sharing the data that she and Leslie Schwindt-Bayer collected. Data replication sets including logs, analysis scripts and data files are available at http://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataverse/BJPolS and online appendices are available at https://doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123416000478.

Footnotes
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Alícia Adserà , Carles Boix , and Mark Payne . 2003. Are You Being Served? Political Accountability and Quality of Government. Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 19:445490.

Namawu Alhassan-Alolo . 2007. Gender and Corruption: Testing the New Consensus. Public Administration and Development 27 (3):227237.

Sarah F. Anzia , and Christopher R. Berry . 2011. The Jackie (and Jill) Robinson Effect: Why Do Congresswomen Outperform Congressmen? American Journal of Political Science 55:478493.

Olivier Armantier , and Amadou Boly . 2011. A Controlled Field Experiment on Corruption. European Economic Review 55:10721082.

Tiffany D. Barnes , and Emily Beaulieu . 2014. Gender Stereotypes and Corruption: How Candidates Affect Perceptions of Election Fraud. Politics & Gender 10:365391.

Alexandra Bernasek , and Stephanie Shwiff . 2001. Gender, Risk, and Retirement. Journal of Economic Issues 35:345356.

Elin Bjarnegård . 2013. Gender, Informal Institutions and Political Recruitment: Explaining Male Dominance in Parliamentary Representation. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Thomas Brambor , William Roberts Clark , and Matt Golder . 2006. Understanding Interaction Models: Improving Empirical Analyses. Political Analysis 14:6382.

James P. Byrnes , David C. Miller , and William D. Schafer . 1999. Gender Differences in Risk-Taking: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin 125:367383.

John M. Carey , and Matthew Soberg Shugart . 1995. Incentives to Cultivate a Personal Vote: A Rank Ordering of Electoral Formulas. Electoral Studies 14:417439.

Eric C. C Chang . 2005. Electoral Incentives for Political Corruption Under Open-List Proportional Representation. Journal of Politics 67:716730.

Eric C. C. Chang , and Miriam A. Golden . 2007. Electoral Systems, District Magnitude and Corruption. British Journal of Political Science 37:115137.

Ananish Chaudhuri . 2012. Gender and Corruption: A Survey of the Experimental Evidence. In New Advances in Experimental Research on Corruption , edited by Danila Serra and Leonard Wantchekon, 1349. Bingley, UK: Emerald.

Sarah Childs , and Mona Lena Krook . 2012. Labels and Mandates in the United Kingdom. In The Impact of Gender Quotas, edited by Susan Franceschet, Mona Lena Krook and Jennifer M. Piscopo, 89102. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Christopher Clague , Philip Keefer , Stephen Knack , and Mancur Olson . 1999. Contract-Intensive Money: Contract Enforcement, Property Rights, and Economic Performance. Journal of Economic Growth 4:185211.

Rachel Croson , and Uri Gneezy . 2009. Gender Differences in Preferences. Journal of Economic Literature 47:448474.

Kathleen Dolan . 2010. The Impact of Gender Stereotyped Evaluations on Support for Women Candidates. Political Behavior 32:6988.

Kathleen Dolan . 2014. Gender Stereotypes, Candidate Evaluations, and Voting for Women Candidates What Really Matters? Political Research Quarterly 67:96107.

David Dollar , Raymond Fisman , and Roberta Gatti . 2001. Are Women Really the ‘Fairer’ Sex? Corruption and Women in Government. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 46:423429.

Dilyan Donchev , and Gergely Ujhelyi . 2014. What Do Corruption Indices Measure? Economics & Politics 26:309331.

Conor M. Dowling , and Michael G. Miller . 2015. Can Information Alter Perceptions About Women’s Chances of Winning Office? Evidence from a Panel Study. Politics & Gender 11:5588.

Catherine C. Eckel , and Philip J. Grossman . 2008. Men, Women, and Risk Aversion: Experimental Evidence. In Handbook of Experimental Economic Results, Vol. 1, edited by Charles Plott and Vernon Smith, 10611073. New York: Elsevier.

Robert Elgie . 2011. Semi-Presidentialism: Sub-Types and Democratic Performance. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Justin Esarey , and Gina Chirillo . 2013. ‘Fairer Sex’ or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender, and Institutional Context. Politics and Gender 9:390413.

Raymond Fisman , and Edward Miguel . 2007. Corruption, Norms, and Legal Enforcement: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets. Journal of Political Economy 115:10201048.

Richard L. Fox , and Jennifer L. Lawless . 2004. Entering the Arena? Gender and the Decision to Run for Office. American Journal of Political Science 48:264280.

Susan Franceschet , and Jennifer M. Piscopo . 2008. Gender Quotas and Women’s Substantive Representation: Lessons from Argentina. Politics & Gender 4:393425.

Anne Marie Goetz . 2002. No Shortcuts to Power: Constraints on Women’s Political Effectiveness in Uganda. The Journal of Modern African Studies 40:549575.

Anne Marie Goetz . 2007. Political Cleaners: Women as the New Anti-Corruption. Development and Change 38:87105.

Timothy Hellwig , and David Samuels . 2008. Electoral Accountability and the Variety of Democratic Regimes. British Journal of Political Science 38 (1):6590.

Gretchen Helmke , and Steven Levitsky . 2004. Informal Institutions and Comparative Politics: A Research Agenda. Perspectives on Politics 2:725740.

Charles A. Holt , and Susan K. Laury . 2002. Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects. The American Economic Review 92:16441655.

Cheng Hsiao . 2003. Analysis of Panel Data. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ronald Inglehart , and Pippa Norris . 2003. Rising Tide: Gender Equality and Cultural Change Around the World. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Janet Elise Johnson , Þorgerður Einarsdóttir , and Gyða Margrét Pétursdóttir . 2013. A Feminist Theory of Corruption: Lessons from Iceland. Politics & Gender 9:174206.

Jesse C. Johnson , Mark Souva , and Dale L. Smith . 2013. Market-Protecting Institutions and the World Trade Organization’s Ability to Promote Trade. International Studies Quarterly 57:410417.

Philip Edward Jones . 2014. Does the Descriptive Representation of Gender Influence Accountability for Substantive Representation? Politics & Gender 10:175199.

Ruth A. Judson , and Ann L. Owen . 1999. Estimating Dynamic Panel Data Models: A Guide for Macroeconomists. Economics Letters 65:915.

Stephen Knack . 2007. Measuring Corruption: A Critique of Indicators in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Journal of Public Policy 27:255291.

Jennifer L. Lawless 2004. Women, War, and Winning Elections: Gender Stereotyping in the Post-September 11th Era. Political Research Quarterly 57:479490.

Jennifer L. Lawless , and Richard L. Fox . 2005. It Takes a Candidate: Why Women Don’t Run for Office. New York: Cambridge University Press.

James H. Lebovic , and Erik Voeten . 2009. The Cost of Shame: International Organizations and Foreign Aid in the Punishing of Human Rights Violators. Journal of Peace Research 46:7997.

Daniel Lederman , Norman V. Loayza , and Rodrigo R. Soares . 2005. Accountability and Corruption: Political Institutions Matter. Economics & Politics 17:135.

Scott Mainwaring , and Matthew Sobert Shugart . 1997. Juan Linz, Presidentialism, and Democracy: A Critical Appraisal. Comparative Politics 29:449472.

Ajit Mishra . 2006. Persistence of Corruption: Some Theoretical Perspectives. World Development 34:349358.

Jana Morgan , and Melissa Buice . 2013. Latin American Attitudes Toward Women in Politics: The Influence of Elite Cues, Female Advancement, and Individual Characteristics. American Political Science Review 107:644662.

Jerzy Neyman , and Elizabeth L. Scott . 1948. Consistent Estimates Based on Partially Consistent Observations. Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society 16 (1):132.

Stephen Nickell . 1981. Biases in Dynamic Models with Fixed Effects. Econometrica: Journal of the Econometric Society 49 (6):14171426.

David Paul , and Jessi L. Smith . 2008. Subtle Sexism? Examining Vote Preferences When Women Run Against Men for the Presidency. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 29:451476.

Torsten Persson , Gerard Roland , and Guido Tabellini . 1997. Separation of Powers and Political Accountability. Quarterly Journal of Economics 112:11631202.

Torsten Persson , Guido Tabellini , and Francesco Trebbi . 2003. Electoral Rules and Corruption. Journal of the European Economic Association 1:958989.

William Robert Reed . 2015. On the Practice of Lagging Variables to Avoid Simultaneity. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics 77:897905.

Susan Rose-Ackerman . 1999. Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Patrick Royston , and Ian R. White . 2011. Multiple Imputation by Chained Equations (MICE): Implementation in Stata. Journal of Statistical Software 45:120.

Donald B Rubin . 1996. Multiple Imputation After 18+ Years. Journal of the American Statistical Association 91:473489.

David Samuels , and Matthew Shugart . 2003. Presidentialism, Elections and Representation. Journal of Theoretical Politics 15:3360.

David Samuels , and Matthew Shugart . 2010. Presidents, Parties, and Prime Ministers: How the Separation of Powers Affects Party Organization and Behavior. New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Leslie Schwindt-Bayer . 2010. Political Power and Women’s Representation in Latin America. New York: Oxford University Press.

Leslie Schwindt-Bayer , and Margit Tavits . 2016. Clarity of Responsibility, Accountability and Corruption. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Leslie A. Schwindt-Bayer , Michael Malecki , and Brian F. Crisp . 2010. Candidate Gender and Electoral Success in Single Transferable Vote Systems. British Journal of Political Science 40:693709.

Matthew Shugart , and John M. Carey . 1992. Presidents and Assemblies Constitutional Design and Electoral Dynamics. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Daniel Stockemer . 2011. Women’s Parliamentary Representation in Africa: The Impact of Democracy and Corruption on the Number of Female Deputies in National Parliaments. Political Studies 59:693712.

Aksel Sundström , and Lena Wängnerud . 2016. Corruption as an Obstacle to Women’s Political Representation Evidence from Local Councils in 18 European Countries. Party Politics 22 (3):354369.

Hung-En Sung . 2003. Fairer Sex or Fairer System? Gender and Corruption Revisited. Social Forces 82:703723.

Anand Swamy , Stephen Knack , Young Lee , and Omar Azfar . 2001. Gender and Corruption. Journal of Development Economics 64:2555.

Margit Tavits . 2007. Clarity of Responsibility and Corruption. American Journal of Political Science 51:218229.

Daniel Treisman . 2000. The Causes of Corruption: A Cross-National Study. Journal of Public Economics 76:399457.

Daniel Treisman . 2007. What Have We Learned About the Causes of Corruption from Ten Years of Cross-National Empirical Research? Annual Review of Political Science 10:211244.

Aili Tripp . 2001. Women’s Movements and Challenges to Neopatrimonial Rule: Preliminary Observations from Africa. Development and Change 32:3354.

Stef van Buuren . 2012. Flexible Imputation of Missing Data. Boca Raton, FL: Chapman and Hall/CRC.

David Watson , and Amy Moreland . 2014. Perceptions of Corruption and the Dynamics of Women’s Representation. Politics & Gender 10:392412.

John Watson , and Mark McNaughton . 2007. Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Expected Retirement Benefits. Financial Analysts Journal 63:5262.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords:

Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary Materials

Esarey and Schwindt-Bayer supplementary material
Tables S1-S6 and Figure S1

 PDF (171 KB)
171 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 14
Total number of PDF views: 140 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 574 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 26th January 2017 - 21st September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.