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When comparing data from the Gender Inequality Index included in the United Nations’ Human Development Report with the Control of Corruption Indicator of the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators (both for 2013), we find a negative correlation between corruption control and gender inequality.However, correlations can be both attractive and potentially misleading.Before looking at specific differences in corrupt behaviour between women and men, it is useful to review the existing evidence on gender differences in general.
Including these control variables, the author found no significant relationship between gender and corruption.
Using more recent data to look at initial levels of women in government and changes in women participation to track their impact on corruption levels, Sung (2012) still could not find any impact of increased women participation on corruption levels.
The correlation only shows that higher gender inequality is observed together with higher levels of corruption.
It does not control for other potential explanatory variables and says nothing about causality. (2001) – first published as a World Bank working paper in 1999 – and Swamy et al. The first study included controls for civil liberties, income and education, and found that lower levels of corruption were indeed associated with a higher proportion of women in parliaments. (2001) reached the same conclusion, while also showing that lower levels of corruption come along with more women in senior positions in public administration and higher shares of women in the labour force.
About the contentious question of nature versus nurture, research finds evidence for both explanations: some differences are innate; others are a product of the environment.
In the available research, the question of whether there are gender differences with respect to corruption is unpacked into three specific issues: Concerning attitudes, survey responses suggest that women show lower tolerance towards corruption. (2001), using data from a micro-survey of business firms in Georgia, showed that a firm is significantly less likely to report requests for unofficial payments by public officials when the owner is a woman.
The belief that women are less corrupt than men is widespread, even among development specialists.
Variations in risk aversion and reciprocal behaviour may partially explain gender differences in corrupt behaviour and provide some guidance for policy choice.
Clarifying these issues requires asking the prior question of whether women are actually less corrupt than men.
We need to understand possible gender differences in corrupt behaviour and in attitudes towards corruption.