As Super Tuesday approaches, Virginia Tech economist Sudipta Sarangi will be available to discuss the role of women in representative government leadership roles and their impact on corruption.

According to a study led by Sarangi, government corruption is less prevalent in countries where there is a greater number of women in political leadership roles, both at national and local levels. The study, first published in 2018 in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, was led by Sarangi, professor and head of the Department of Economics, part of the Virginia Tech College of Science.

Sarangi and his co-investigator Chandan Jha analyzed more than 125 countries from around the world for which data was available. Among the countries included are all major advanced democracies, the United States among them as well as a number of number of countries in the lower and middle income groups. Women policymakers are able to have an impact on corruption because they choose different policies from men: supporting and funding policies that are more closely related to the welfare of women, children, and family. Sarangi also looked at the participation of women in the labor force, clerical positions, and the corporate world, with decision-making positions such as the CEOs and other managerial positions.


“What we find is that in three of the roles, women in the labor force, women in [individual] decision-making roles, and women in clerical positions, these three have no effect on corruption, however women in the parliament do have an effect on corruption,” Sarangi said. “Women being in parliament actually leads to lower corruption, [however] if you have too few women it’s not going to have an impact. There should be at least 20 percent women in the parliament to have an impact on corruption.”


Sarangi has served as head of the Department of Economics at Virginia Tech since 2015. He previously worked for the National Science Foundation and Louisiana State University, where he was the Gulf Coast Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Inc. Distinguished Professor of Business Administration. He has also been a consultant to the World Bank and the Food and Agricultural Organization. Among his awards is the 2020 Kuznets Prize of the Journal of Population Economics, honoring his work on a 2019 study that looks at the reasons why 6 million women are “missing” each year worldwide as a result of a combination of circumstances such as sex-selective abortions, female infanticide, and inadequate healthcare and nutrition for female children.

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