‘Women are less likely to corrupt than men’, research says

‘Women are less likely to corrupt than men’, research says

Transparency International released its annual report on corruption worldwide in January 2022. The report shows that the corruption situation is getting worse in developing countries; however, developed countries have problems too. 

The author’s recommendations include strengthening anti-corruption agencies, advocating for transparency in public spending and cracking down on financial crime. 

Some countries have taken a different approach toward dealing with corruption in their countries. for instance, in 2011, a state in Mexico hired all-female traffic police to stamp down grafting. Peru is known for taking a similar approach in the 1990s. But the question remains, are women less corrupt than men?

In 2001 World Bank published a study about women’s likeliness to receive corruption. The study looked at 100 countries with a massive number of female legislators, and they concluded that female legislators are less likely to demand a bribe. 

Francesco Decarolis of Bocconi University in Italy came to the similar conclusion that in China, between 1979 and 2014, senior female bureaucrats were 81% less likely to have been arrested for corruption than their male colleagues. In Italy between 2000 and 2016, female officials were 22% less likely than male officials to investigate corruption.

Elin Bjarnegard, an academician from Uppsala University in Sweden, explains why women are less likely to demand bribes than men?

One is that women officials are exposed to fewer corruption opportunities than men. Corruption thrives within “old boys’ clubs”. 

It may be that these groups, typically dominated by men, tend to trust and induct people who look like them. Such networks also want to enlist people (again, usually men) who have access to resources, which can be used for things such as vote-buying.

Evidence from Argentina found that female legislators were less likely to be part of the major political parties most associated with corruption, while in Mexico, many women in politics start their careers in NGOs, rather than by working their way up a corrupt network, so they are less likely to be involved in graft.

Another reason is that female politicians avoid corruption because they are more severely punished for it. Many voters expect women to conform to stereotypes that they are more honest and compassionate than men. When they are not, they pay heavily for it. 

Such was the case in Malawi in 2014, according to research published in Women’s Studies International Forum, a journal. Using survey data and focus groups, the study found that Joyce Banda, Malawi’s president at the time, may have paid a higher price in the polls for a corruption scandal than her male predecessors did for similar transgressions. High expectations of propriety may lead women to be more risk-averse than men on average.

The explanations are grounded in the reality that women have less power than men. 

So any corrupt gender gap could fade in countries where the sexes become more equal. This has already been so for the gender gap in general crime. 

On average, women still commit fewer offences than men. But women have become more criminal over the past 50 years. 

That is partly because technological and social progress has allowed them more time to work outside the home (both legally and illegally).