There is less corruption in places where women are

There is less corruption in places where women are

Bahar Karacar
Surveys of gender inequality around the world reveal that women lag far behind men in terms of freedom, education and income. However, research comparing women and men regarding their propensity to corruption suggests that women are more resistant to corruption. Field surveys show that when anti-corruption controls are effective in the business world, women’s resistance to corruption increases even further.

Gender inequality in corruption!

This finding complies with the tendency of greater avoidance of risks among women compared to men. Accordingly, anti-corruption measures seem to be more effective on female employees. When data in the U.N. Human Development Report’s Gender Inequality Index is compared with data in the Corruption Control Indicator of the World Bank’s 2013 Governance Indicators, a negative correlation between corruption control and gender inequality emerges. Such one-sided correlations can be both misleading and interesting. However, it is noteworthy that countries with high gender inequality tend to have higher levels of corruption.

The study conducted on behalf of the World Bank reveals the relationship between corruption and gender inequality. Initial research includes data about freedom, income and education. According to the study, in countries with lower rates of corruption, women enjoy greater rights. Importantly, they have more opportunity to participate in legislation and administration.

Another study undertaken by the American Economic Association reveals the answer to the question of whether there are behavioral differences between men and women regarding corruption.

This study indicates that – apart from those in managing positions - women are generally more risk-averse, more socially sensitive, more self-sacrificing and more open to collaborating than men. In the study, the question of gender difference related to corruption is evaluated under three separate headings: Gender behavioral differences regarding corruption, gender differences in accepting bribes, and gender differences in giving bribes.

Women more risk-averse…

All surveys indicate that women’s tolerance for corruption is lower than that of men. However, it should be said that surveys and questionnaires may not always reflect actual business life. Findings should be supported by case studies and experimental behavioral investigations.

Women’s attitudes towards corruption vary geographically and culturally. An experimental study comparing Australia, India, Indonesia and Singapore has been conducted on this topic. In the study it is seen that women in Australia tend to accept fewer bribes than men, while it was the opposite in Singapore and there was no significant difference between genders in India and Indonesia. In a field experiment in the African country of Burkina Faso, it was observed that women are at least as likely as men to accept bribes, when they are not afraid of being caught.

Without supervision, many men and women accept bribes, and the probability of accepting bribes is significantly reduced if supervised.

Still, many studies show us that women are generally more resistant to corruption than men, and this resistance increases further when controls are effective. Increasing the visibility of women at the state level may only superficially reduces corruption, but it can also be a sign of women’s decisive attitude toward corruption.

* Dr. Bahar Karacar is Project Coordinator of Turkey’s Ethics and Reputation Society (TEİD).