‘Fairer Sex’ or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender, and Institutional Context

Authored by: Justin Esarey and Gina Chirillo

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Democratization and Political Participation, Political Transitions
Region: No Region
Year: 2013
Citation: Esarey, Justin and Gina Chirillo. "'Fairer Sex' or Purity Myth? Corruption, Gender, and Institutional Context." Politics and Gender 9 (2013): 361-389.

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In this article, we flesh out the details of our idea and present evidence to support it. First, we examine whether men are more tolerant of bribery than women at different levels of institutionalized democracy/autocracy. Then, we investigate whether the negative association between corruption and female participation in government is robust in democratic and autocratic contexts. To preview our results, we find strong evidence that a gender gap in corruption attitudes and behaviors is present in democracies but that it is weaker or nonexistent in autocracies. This is consistent with our claim that women have stronger incentives to adapt to political norms because of the risks created by gender discrimination. We conclude by exploring alternative interpretations of our empirical findings and their policy implications. Each emphasizes a different intersection between identity factors and institutional forces as key to the context-specific relationship between women and corruption (Manuel 2006), but all reinforce the idea that recruiting women into government would be unlikely to reduce corruption across the board. Furthermore, they all support the idea that the relationship between lower corruption and greater female participation in government is a byproduct of the differential treatment of women (by voters or political elites).