Impact of female legislators on support for honest government

Li‐Ju Chen (Department of Economics, Feng Chia University, Taichung, Taiwan)

International Journal of Development Issues

ISSN: 1446-8956

Publication date: 28 June 2013



Given that female candidates benefit more from an election based on a proportional representation system as opposed to a plurality system and the extent of corruption may not change much across a crude classification of electoral systems, this study attempts to connect the level of corruption to the proportion of female legislators by introducing the electoral rules as an instrument for the latter variable.


This paper uses electoral rules as an instrument for the elected women to clarify the causality of women on corruption since a country with a high number of female legislators may simply have superior economic performance, which may reveal a simultaneous preference for gender equality and clean government. Section 2 describes the relationships between corruption and women. Section 3 provides the empirical specification by first building a channel from the electoral rules to elected women and then investigating the influence of female legislators on the level of corruption. This section also provides a description of the data. Section 4 presents the results of the analysis. Section 5 concludes.


The results show that having more women in parliament results in more honest government, which is very likely to be causally evident.


This study investigates whether more seats taken by female parliamentarians results in a less corrupt government. While a large and growing body of research on this issue claims that there is a link between a higher level of female representation in government and lower levels of corruption, it is uncertain if a causal relationship can be established. This study attempts to provide evidence by building a channel from electoral rules and gender quotas to the fraction of female legislators, while consequently investigating the impact of female legislators on corruption. Based on the countries contained in this study, the results suggest that the presence of female parliamentarians apparently has a significantly negative effect on the level of corruption, which is very likely to be causally evident.



Chen, L. (2013), "Impact of female legislators on support for honest government", International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 12 No. 2, pp. 158-174.

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