Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-klj7v Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-03-01T13:42:35.977Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

“Fairer Sex” or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender, and Institutional Context

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2013

Justin Esarey
Rice University
Gina Chirillo
National Democratic Institute


Recent research finds that states with more women involved in government are also less prone to corruption (Dollar, Fisman, and Gatti 2001; Swamy et al. 2001). But a review of experimental evidence indicates that “women are not necessarily more intrinsically honest or averse to corruption than men” in the laboratory or in the field (Frank, Lambsdorff, and Boehm 2011, 68). Rather, the attitudes and behaviors of women concerning corruption depend on institutional and cultural contexts in these experimental situations (Alatas, Cameron, and Chaudhuri 2009; Alhassan-Alolo 2007; Armantier and Boly 2008; Schulze and Frank 2003). If women's inclination toward corruption is contextual, then what are the contexts in which we would expect female involvement in government to fight corruption? The answer is important to understand where gender equality initiatives present a cost-effective and politically feasible approach to cleaning up government.

Research Article
Copyright © The Women and Politics Research Section of the American Political Science Association 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Alatas, Vivi, Cameron, Lisa, and Chaudhuri, Ananish. 2009. “Gender, Culture, and Corruption: Insights from an Experimental Analysis.” Southern Economic Journal 75 (3): 663–80.Google Scholar
Alhassan-Alolo, Namawu. 2007. “Gender and Corruption: Testing the New Consensus.” Public Administration and Development 237 (3): 227–37.Google Scholar
Armantier, Olivier, and Boly, Amadou. 2008. “Can Corruption be Studied in the Lab? Comparing a Field and a Lab Experiment.” (Accessed August 16, 2013).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brambor, Thomas, Clark, William R., and Golder, Matthew. 2006. “Understanding Interaction Models: Improving Empirical Analyses.” Political Analysis 14 (1): 120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brunetti, Aymo, and Weder, Beatrice. 2003. “A Free Press is Bad News for Corruption.” Journal of Public Economics 87 (7): 1801–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buchan, Nancy, Croson, Rachel T. A., and Solnick, Sara. 2008. “Trust and Gender: An Examination of Behavior and Beliefs in the Investment Game.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 68 (3–4): 466–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce, Smith, Alastain, Siverson, Randolph H., and Morrow, James D.. 2003. The Logic of Political Survival. Boston, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chiebub, Jose Antonio, Gandhi, Jennifer, and Vreeland, James Raymond. 2010. “Democracy and Dictatorship Revisited.” Public Choice 143 (1–2): 67101.Google Scholar
Chowdhury, Shyamal K. 2004. “The Effect of Democracy and Press Freedom on Corruption: An Empirical Test.” Economics Letters 85 (1): 93101.Google Scholar
Cingranelli, David, and Richards, David. 2010. “The Cingranelli-Richards (CIRI) Human Rights Dataset.” (Accessed August 16, 2013).Google Scholar
Dollar, David, Fisman, Raymond, and Gatti, Roberta. 2001. “Are Women Really the ‘Fairer’ Sex? Corruption and Women in Government.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 46 (4): 423–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Frank, Björn, Lambsdorff, Johann Graf, and Boehm, Frederic. 2011. “Gender and Corruption: Lessons from Laboratory Corruption Experiments.” European Journal of Development Research 23 (1): 5971.Google Scholar
House, Freedom. 2012. “Freedom in the World 2012: Selected Data from Freedom Houses Annual Survey of Political Rights and Civil Liberties.” (Accessed September 7, 2013).Google Scholar
Freille, Sebastian, Haque, M. Emranul, and Kneller, Richard. 2007. “A Contribution to the Empirics of Press Freedom and Corruption.” European Journal of Political Economy 23 (4): 838–62.Google Scholar
Galtung, Fredrik. 2006. “Measuring the Unmeasurable: Boundaries and Functions of (Macro) Corruption Indices.” In Measuring Corruption, eds. Sampford, Charles J. G., Shacklock, Arthur, Connors, Carmel, and Galtung, Fredrik. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 101–30.Google Scholar
Goetz, Anne Marie. 2007. “Political Cleaners: Women as the New Anti-Corruption.” Development and Change 38 (1): 87105.Google Scholar
Heritage Foundation. 2012. “Index of Economic Freedom.” (Accessed July 29, 2012).Google Scholar
Inter-Parliamentary Union. 2012. “Women in Parliaments: World and Regional Averages.” (Accessed July 11, 2012).Google Scholar
Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon, and Bernasek, Alexandra. 1998. “Are Women More Risk Averse?Economic Inquiry 36 (4): 620–30.Google Scholar
Johnston, Michael. 2005. “Controlling Global Corruption: Are We There Yet?Current History 104 (686): 425–29.Google Scholar
Karim, Sabrina. 2011. “Madame Officer.” Americas Quarterly 5 (3). (Accessed July 20, 2012).Google Scholar
Kaufmann, Daniel, Kraay, Aart, and Mastruzzi, Massimo. 2003. “Governance Matters III: Governance Indicators for 1996–2002.” (Accessed August 16, 2013).Google Scholar
Kaufmann, Daniel, Kraay, Aart, and Mastruzzi, Massimo. 2010. “The Worldwide Governance Indicators: Methodology and Analytical Issues.” (Accessed August 22, 2013).Google Scholar
Kolstad, Ivar, and Wiig, Arne. 2011. “Does Democracy Reduce Corruption?” CMI Working Paper 4. (Accessed August 16, 2013).Google Scholar
Kunicova, Jana. 2006. “Democratic Institutions and Corruption: Incentives and Constraints in Politics.” In International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, ed. Rose-Ackerman, Susan. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 140–60.Google Scholar
Kunicova, Jana, and Rose-Ackerman, Susan. 2005. “Electoral Rules and Constitutional Structures as Constraints on Corruption.” British Journal of Political Science 35 (4): 573606.Google Scholar
Lambsdorff, Johann Graf. 2006. “Measuring Corruption: The Validity and Precision of Subjective Indicators (CPI). In Measuring Corruption, eds. Sampford, Charles J. G., Shacklock, Arthur, Connors, Carmel, and Galtung, Fredrik. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 8199.Google Scholar
Manuel, Tiffany. 2006. “Envisioning the Possibilities for a Good Life: Exploring the Public Policy Implications of Intersectionality Theory.” Journal of Women, Politics, & Policy 28 (3–4): 173203.Google Scholar
Marshall, Monty, Jaggers, Keith, and Gurr, Ted Robert. 2010. “Polity IV Project.” (Accessed August 16, 2013).Google Scholar
McDermott, Jeremy. 1999. “International: Women Police Ride in on a Ticket of Honesty.” The Daily Telegraph (July 31, 1999).Google Scholar
Moore, Molly. 1999. “Mexico City's Stop Sign to Bribery; To Halt Corruption, Women Traffic Cops Replace Men.” The Washington Post (July 31, 1999). (Accessed August 16, 2012).Google Scholar
Myerson, Roger. 1993. “Effectiveness of Electoral Systems for Reducing Government Corruption: A Game-Theoretic Analysis.” Games and Economic Behavior 5 (1): 118–32.Google Scholar
Nwabuzor, Augustine. 2005. “Corruption and Development: New Initiatives in Economic Openness and Strengthened Rule of Law.” Journal of Business Ethics 59 (1–2): 121–38.Google Scholar
Persson, Torsten, Roland, Gerard, and Tabellini, Guido. 1997. “Separation of Powers and Political Accountability.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 112 (4): 11631202.Google Scholar
Persson, Torsten, and Tabellini, Guido. 2002. Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy. Boston, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Political Risk Services Group. 2012. “ICRG Methodology.” (Accessed July 11, 2012).Google Scholar
Quinones, Sam. 1999. “Stop!” Ms. (December): 24.Google Scholar
Schulze, Günther G., and Frank, Björn. 2003. “Deterrence versus Intrinsic Motivation: Experimental Evidence on the Determinants of Corruptibility.” Economics of Governance 4 (2): 143–60.Google Scholar
Stearns, Jason. 2011. Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. New York: PublicAffairs.Google Scholar
Stolberg, Sheryl Gay. 2011. “When It Comes to Scandal, Girls Won't Be Boys.” The New York Times (June 12, 2011). (Accessed September 7, 2013).Google Scholar
Sung, Hung-En. 2003. “Fairer Sex or Fairer System? Gender and Corruption Revisited.” Social Forces 82 (2): 703–23.Google Scholar
Swamy, Anand, Knack, Stephen, Lee, Young, and Azfar, Omar. 2001. “Gender and Corruption.” Journal of Development Economics 64 (1): 2555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tanzi, Vito. 1998. “Corruption Around the World: Causes, Consequences, Scope, and Cures.” IMF Staff Papers 45: 559–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Teorell, Jan, Charron, Nicholas, Samanni, Marcus, Holmberg, Söoren and Rothstein, Bo. 2009. “The Quality of Government Dataset, version 17June09.” (Accessed August 22, 2013).Google Scholar
Transparency International. 2011. “Methodological Brief.” (Accessed August 22, 2013).Google Scholar
Treisman, Daniel. 2007. “What Have We Learned About the Causes of Corruption from Ten Years of Cross-National Empirical Research?Annual Review of Political Science 10 (1): 211244.Google Scholar
Vanhanen, Tatu. 2005. “Measures of Democracy 18102010.” (Accessed August 22, 2013).Google Scholar
Watson, John, and McNaughton, Mark. 2007. “Gender Differences in Risk Aversion and Expected Retirement Benefits.” Financial Analysts Journal 63 (4): 5262.Google Scholar
World Values Survey Association. 2009. “World Values Survey 1981–2008. Official Aggregate v.20090901.” (Accessed August 22, 2013).Google Scholar