'Are women better police officers? Evidence from survey experiments in Uganda', by N. Wagner, M. Rieger, A. Bedi, W. Hout

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ISS Working Paper No. 615


Can the feminization of public services improve quality and lower corruption? The underlying logic of such efforts is the belief that women have higher ethical standards than men. To answer this question, we examine the links between gender and policing practice using data from twelve vignette cases assessed by 600 Ugandan police officers. Our empirical strategy is based on a randomized framing experiment, which is designed to isolate the effect of gender from institutional factors and social norms. We find that the gender of the police officer depicted in the cases and victim gender are not related to the judgment of police malpractice, nor to suggested disciplinary measures. However, respondent gender matters for the reporting of misconduct and the perception of the official institutional policy of the police. Men are stricter when assessing cases along these dimensions. The results indicate that simply feminizing the police force is unlikely to enhance service quality.

About the authors

Natascha Wagner is an assistant professor of Development Economics at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR). Her research interests lies in international economics, development and health. She has participated in various impact evaluation projects in Africa and Asia ranging from the assessment of public health programs to rural infrastructure programs. In her research, she applies quantitative microeconomic methods to interdisciplinary questions such as for example the impact of polygamous household organization on child health, the economic consequences of female genital cutting (FGC) and issues of good governance and local decentralization. She has published articles in, among others, Health Economics, Journal of Development Studies and World Development.

Matthias Rieger is an micro-development economist with interests in experimental and health economics. He is Assistant Professor in Development Economics at the International  Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam. Previously he was a post-doc in the Max Weber Program at the European University Institute (EUI), Florence. He did his PhD in International Economics at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva. He is also an academic associate of the World Bank's Development Impact Evaluation Initiative (DIME).

Arjun Singh Bedi is Professor of Development Economics at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), The Netherlands.

Wil Hout is Professor of Governance and International Political Economy at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) of Erasmus University Rotterdam. His research interests relate to international relations, development assistance and issues of ('good') governance. He has further done research on the state oil company of Suriname. He is the author of Capitalism and the Third World (Edward Elgar, 1993), The Politics of Aid Selectivity (Routledge, 2007) and (co-)editor of six volumes and special issues, most recently of EU Strategies on Governance Reform: Between Development and State-building (Routledge, 2012). He has published articles in, among others, the European Journal of International Relations, Development and Change, the Journal of Development Studies, Third World Quarterly, Critical Asian Studies and Acta Politica: International Journal of Political Science.

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JEL classification

C90, J16, O12.

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