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Close the political gender gap to reduce corruption

How women's political agenda and risk aversion restricts corrupt behaviour

Including women in local councils is strongly negatively associated with the prevalence of both petty and grand forms of corruption. This reduction in corruption is primarily experienced among women. A study suggests that female representatives seek to further two separate political agendas once they attain public office: 1) the improvement of public service delivery in sectors that tend to primarily benefit women, and 2) the breakup of male-dominated collusive networks.

29 April 2018
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Close the political gender gap to reduce corruption

Main points

  • Increased representation of women in elected office can reduce both petty and grand corruption.
  • Women in elected office reduce corruption both because they are risk averse and because they have a different political agenda than men.
  • Women in elected office reduce petty corruption in their efforts to improve public service delivery and grand corruption because it is detrimental to their political careers.
  • Women in elected office reduce the rate of bribery for public services, particularly for women.
  • Donors can promote women’s representation and reduced corruption through supporting the anti-corruption agendas chosen by women.

Cite this publication

Bauhr, M.; Charron, N.; Wängnerud, L.; (2018) Close the political gender gap to reduce corruption. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Brief 2018:3)

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About the authors

Monika Bauhr

Monika Bauhr is an Associate Professor at the Quality of Government Institute at the department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. She has previously been a visiting scholar at Stanford University, the University of Florida and the University of Dar es Salaam. Her research is mainly concerned with the link between democracy and corruption, and the effectiveness of anti-corruption reforms. She works on transparency, international redistribution and foreign aid, civic and electoral engagement, clientelism, and gender and corruption. Her work appears in journals such as the International Studies Quarterly, Global Environmental Politics, Governance and Comparative Political Studies.

Nicholas Charron

Nicholas Charron is an Associate Professor of political science at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and a research fellow at the Quality of Government Institute. He has previously worked at the University of Memphis and Copenhagen Business School, and consulted for the European Commission, Transparency International, the OECD and the World Bank. His research is mainly in the field of comparative politics, and focuses on political institutions, corruption, decentralisation, public opinion and the European Union at national and sub-national levels. He is one of the authors of the European Quality of Government Index (along with Lewis Dijkstra and Victor Lapuente) and his work has been published in numerous international peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of Politics, Comparative Political Studies, Regional Studies, European Journal of Political Research, West European Politics and European Union Politics.

Lena Wängnerud

Lena Wängnerud is a Professor at the Quality of Government Institute at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. She has previously been a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on political representation, gender equality processes and the link between gender and corruption. Among her recent books are The Principles of gender-sensitive parliaments and Elites, institutions and the quality of government (co-edited with Carl Dahlström). She is the co-editor, with Helena Stensöta, of the book Gender and corruption: Historic roots and new avenues for research. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Annual Review of Political Science, Governance and Politics & Gender.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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