Gender and Policing Norms: Evidence from Survey Experiments among Police Officers in Uganda

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Can the feminization of public services improve service 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 link between gender and policing norms using data from twelve vignette cases assessed by 600 Ugandan police officers. Our empirical strategy is based on a survey experiment that randomly varies the gender of police officers and victims/perpetrators presented in twelve hypothetical cases. Pooling the twelve cases we obtain a sample of 7,200 observations that allows us to control for individual officer characteristics, case and district fixed effects. We find that the gender of the police officer and the gender of the victim depicted in the cases are not related to the judgment of police malpractice, nor to suggested disciplinary measures. We also assess the association between respondent gender and policing norms. Male respondents tend to be stricter when assessing the hypothetical cases. However, male officers are slightly more lenient when there is a male rogue officer depicted in the vignette cases. The findings point to and complement descriptive evidence on power structures within the police, where men in leading positions are aware of the official rules and know whom to turn to for reports of inappropriate behavior. But gender perceptions do not differ between male and female police officers. Overall, the results indicate that simply feminizing the police force is unlikely to enhance service quality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-515
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of African Economies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2017


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