MISUSE, PUNISHMENT AND NEPOTISM. GENDER PERSPECTIVES ON CORRUPTION IN LATVIA
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In global context international organizations like World Bank, UNDP and UNIFEM have begun to recommend that women should increasingly constitute a growing share of the civil service. This recommendation is an expansion of the positive discrimination position to increase gender equality rooted in the belief that women are morally superior to men, that is, are less inclined to accept corruption. Thus in societies characterized by systemic corruption gender based recruitment promises perhaps not a quick fix but at least a supplement to other anticorruption efforts. Given the prevalence of corruption in Latvia this paper questions is Latvian female civil servants really are morally superior to their male colleagues, or are the differences in attitudes towards corruption, punishment and nepotism an artefact of a socio-economic gender gap? Based on a survey of 500 Latvian civil servants, it is found that Latvian women do perceive corruption to be more widespread than men but are less inclined to support increased penalties for civil servants and firms caught in the act. These results are indicators of a socioeconomic gender gap. However, corruption is particular inherently difficult to research when respondents are asked about their own activities. Knowing that these activities are immoral if not outright illegal respondents are likely to ‘colour’ their answers. Therefore the present research capitalizes on the later years methodological developments by, for the first time, introducing the list experiment to the study of nepotism in surveys. Holding one group of respondents constant and only vary the list of answers slightly for the remaining respondents it is possible – without the respondents knowing this – to trace the prevalence of nepotism among Latvian civil servant. Using this technique no differences between the genders with respect to nepotism were found. In turn, the upbeat positive story is that Latvian civil servants espouse values that underpin modern administrative thought. The paper does not discuss positive discrimination as such but given the find that women are not morally superior to men this argument should not be used in the affirmative for a change in recruitment policies to the civil service.
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