Does Corruption in Developing Countries Lead to Worse Outcomes for Women?
The impact of gender-based discrimination is far-reaching and profound in employment, families, education, nationality, sexual orientation and gender identity, intimate partner violence, politics, health, and unpaid care and domestic work, among other areas. Women earn 23 percent less than men globally which leads to higher incidence of poverty and leaves women more vulnerable to economic shocks. Women are also more likely to be in lower paid, insecure employment; they are less likely to save and invest for the future; and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults are women, limiting access to resources and barring access to decision-making. Given that women are more likely to be subject to discriminatory practices, a well-functioning government is imperative to implementing policies that alleviate gender inequalities. Corruption in the public sector is one indicator of an inefficient government that is unable to fully provide this function. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to test the hypothesis that public corruption negatively affects gender equality in developing countries. Specifically, I test the relationship between Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index score and three proxies for gender equality: maternal mortality, civil liberties, and property rights. Some interpretation of the results was hampered by a lack of robust data; however, I found that greater corruption worsens maternal mortality and women’s access to civil liberties. The property rights model appears to suffer from omitted variable bias which may have tainted the results. The relationship between corruption score and the three key independent variables was relatively weak. I explain this result by further hypothesizing that while corruption does impact gender equality, there are other variables that might have greater impact on gender equality, such as poverty.
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