The European Journal of Development Research

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 59–71 | Cite as

Gender and Corruption: Lessons from Laboratory Corruption Experiments

  • Björn Frank
  • Johann Graf Lambsdorff
  • Frédéric Boehm
Original Article


Reliable microdata on corrupt behavior are hard to obtain in the field, and available field data are hard to interpret. Laboratory corruption experiments have therefore recently gained in popularity, and those that shed light on gender effects are surveyed in this article. The tentative main result is this: if women are involved in a potentially corrupt transaction, it is more likely to fail. The reason is not that women are intrinsically more honest, but that they are more opportunistic when they have the chance to break an implicitly corrupt contract and less engaged in retaliating nonperformance. The survey closes with tentative implications for development policy.

Les micro-données fiables sur les comportements de corruption sont difficiles à recueillir sur le terrain, et les données de terrain disponibles sont difficilement interprétables. Les expériences en laboratoire sur la corruption gagnent donc, depuis quelques temps, en popularité. Celles qui mettent en lumière les effets de genre sont examinées dans cet article. Un premier constat provisoire est celui ci: Si des femmes sont impliquées dans une transaction potentiellement frauduleuse, la probabilité d’échec de cette dernière est plus élevée. La raison n’en n’est pas que les femmes sont intrinsèquement plus honnêtes, mais plutôt qu’elles sont plus opportunistes lorsqu’il s’agit de rompre un contrat teinté de corruption et moins enclines à réagir face à des performances insatisfaisantes. L’étude conclut en décrivant des implications possibles pour les politiques de développement.’


corruption experiments gender reciprocity trust 



A first version of this article had been prepared for the GTZ and EADI workshop ‘Gender and Corruption in Development Cooperation’ in November 2008. The authors are indebted to two anonymous referees for helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Björn Frank
    • 1
  • Johann Graf Lambsdorff
    • 2
  • Frédéric Boehm
    • 3
  1. 1.University of KasselGermany
  2. 2.Passau UniversityGermany
  3. 3.Universidad del NorteBarranquillaColombia

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