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Women in government, public corruption, and liberal democracy: a panel analysis

Abstract

Ever since a 2001 World Bank report, many policymakers have come to accept a gender-based approach to corruption control, which posits that women in government reduce corruption because females are more ethical than males. An alternative explanation asserting the spuriousness of the gender-corruption link suggests that both gender equality and lower corruption result from a functioning liberal democracy. In this study, eight hypotheses are formulated and tested with longitudinal data for 204 countries. Findings demonstrate that neither the level of women in government nor a change in it has any impact on the prevalence and/or short-term trend of corruption. But both the strength of liberal institutions and an increase in this strength predict the prevalence and trend of corruption.

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Notes

  1. World Bank economists adopt an unobserved component model (UCM) approach to aggregate numerous responses into broad, and more manageable, clusters [68]. The observed data in each cluster are expressed as a linear function of the unobserved common component of governance with a disturbance term capturing perception errors or sampling variation in each indicator. This model treats the “true” level of governance in each country as unobserved, and assumes that each of the available sources for a country provide noisy “signals” of the level of governance. It then constructs a weighted average of the sources for each country as the best estimate of governance for that country. The weights are proportional to the reliability of each source.

  2. Variable entry in hierarchical regression models is usually recommended to respect the presumed causal priority (i.e., the causes should be entered before their effects) [86]. Given that the liberal democracy hypothesis proposes a spurious link between women in government and corruption, and asserts a causal flow from liberal democracy to women in government, the three liberal democracy variables should in principle be entered first. However, because the liberal democracy hypothesis is set as a challenge to a more established theory, I have decided to reverse the entry order and allow the women in government variables to be added earlier. This procedure gives an advantage to the women in government variables since any overlapping contribution between the two sets of predictors to the explanation of the variance in the dependent variable is attributed to the variables entered in an earlier stage.

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Funding

This work was supported by the grant # 61074–00 39 awarded by the Professional Staff Congress at the City University of New York.

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Correspondence to Hung-En Sung.

Appendix A

Appendix A

List of countries and territories included in the sample (N = 204)

Afghanistan China Hong Kong
Albania Colombia Hungary
Algeria Comoros Iceland
American Samoa Congo India
Andorra Congo, Dem. Rep. (Zaire) Indonesia
Angola Cook Islands Iran
Anguilla Costa Rica Iraq
Antigua and Barbuda Croatia Ireland
Argentina Cuba Israel
Armenia Cyprus Italy
Aruba Czech Republic Ivory Coast
Australia Denmark Jamaica
Austria Djibouti Japan
Azerbaijan Dominica Jordan
Bahamas Dominican Republic Kazakhstan
Bahrain Ecuador Kenya
Bangladesh Egypt Kiribati
Barbados El Salvador Korea, North
Belarus Equatorial Guinea Korea, South
Belgium Eritrea Kuwait
Belize Estonia Kyrgyz Republic
Benin Ethiopia Laos
Bermuda Fiji Latvia
Bhutan Finland Lebanon
Bolivia France Lesotho
Bosnia-Herzegovina French Guiana Liberia
Botswana Gabon Libya
Brazil Gambia Liechtenstein
Brunei Georgia Lithuania
Bulgaria Germany Luxembourg
Burkina Faso Ghana Macao
Burundi Greece Macedonia
Cambodia Grenada Madagascar
Cameron Guam Malawi
Canada Guatemala Malaysia
Cape Verde Guinea-Bissau Maldives
Cayman Islands Guinea Mali
Central African Republic Guyana Malta
Chad Haiti Marshall Islands
Chile Honduras Martinique
Mauritania Qatar Syria
Mauritius Reunion Taiwan
Mexico Romania Tajikistan
Micronesia Russia Tanzania
Moldova Rwanda Thailand
Mongolia Samoa Timor, East
Morocco Sao Tome and Principe Togo
Mozambique Saudi Arabia Tonga
Myanmar Senegal Trinidad and Tobago
Namibia Serbia and Montenegro Tunisia
Nepal Seychelles Turkey
Netherlands Sierra Leone Turkmenistan
Netherlands Antilles Singapore Tuvalu
New Zealand Slovak Republic Uganda
Nicaragua Slovenia Ukraine
Niger Solomon Islands United Arab Emirates
Nigeria Somalia United Kingdom
Norway South Africa United States
Oman Spain Uruguay
Pakistan Sri Lanka Uzbekistan
Panama St. Kitts and Nevis Vanuatu
Papua New Guinea St. Lucia Venezuela
Paraguay St. Vincent and the Grenadines Vietnam
Peru Sudan Virgin Islands (U.S.)
Philippines Suriname West Bank
Poland Swaziland Yemen
Portugal Sweden Zambia
Puerto Rico Switzerland Zimbabwe

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Sung, HE. Women in government, public corruption, and liberal democracy: a panel analysis. Crime Law Soc Change 58, 195–219 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10611-012-9381-2

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Keywords

  • Gender Equality
  • Liberal Democracy
  • Spurious Effect
  • Government Variable
  • Cabinet Minister