As countries anticipate the second wave of Covid-19, recently published research provides evidence to show that countries with female leaders performed better on two significant counts; a lower number of positive Covid-19 cases and a lower number of Covid-19 related deaths. The authors of the research from the Universities of Reading and Liverpool, compared data using 194 countries dataset. Their data analysis included controls for other factors, such as GDP per capita, the population, the size of the urban population, and the proportion of elderly adults. Their findings demonstrated that Covid-19 related outcomes are systematically better in countries led by women.
Areas of differentiation, such as health expenditure, will impact results to Covid-19. Countries with a weaker health infrastructure are more likely to shut down quickly in a defensive measure, demonstrated by several developing countries, including India and South Africa. However, the decision to shut down countries quickly was not limited to regions with weaker health infrastructure but included countries like Germany and Taiwan, both led by women. Other factors, including countries more open to international travel, also demonstrated better performance. While these countries experienced a similar number of Covid-19 cases to other nations open to international travel, the subsequent deaths in countries with female leaders were noticeably lower.
The results are compelling; in terms of the absolute number of Covid-19 cases and deaths, which demonstrated that countries with male-leaders experienced double the number of fatalities than female-led countries. The adjusted data on Covid-19 related factors until 19th May 2020 (for many countries, the height of the first wave) revealed the average number of cases for male-led countries was 26,333. In contrast, for women-led countries, the average number of cases was 16,806. In terms of deaths, the average number of deaths was 1,994 in male-led countries compared with 1,056.
The gender differences in leadership explain the variances in the results, particularly the way in which female leaders make decisions. Speaking to one of the authors, Professor Uma Kambhampati, we discussed the differentiating factors that led to these results. Leaders of countries with lower rates of Covid-19 acted more decisively and quickly; Kambhampati argues, “the issue is the women politicians seem to figure out very early on that there was an issue for lives, and irrespective of what was happening to the economy, it was essential to shut down quickly and decisively.” Women have a lower threshold for ambiguity, which is different from risk. The impact of Covid-19 has thrown up complex