Archive for the ‘Gender and Equality’ Category

Podcast on Gender Budgeting

Michael Stephens | June 18, 2021

Research Associate Lekha Chakraborty, recently chosen to join the governing council of the International Institute for Public Finance, was interviewed for an Onmanorama podcast on the question of gender budgeting and the advantages of centering care work.

Chakraborty argues policymakers in India should prioritize integrating a comprehensive care economy policy package in macroeconomic management, and laments the separation (disciplinary and otherwise) between questions of gender and of macroeconomics. In the context of the ongoing pandemic, she advocates sending monthly cash transfers to women engaged in otherwise unpaid and undervalued household work.

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Increasing Diversity in Economics Is Not Only a Moral Obligation

Luiza Nassif Pires | December 8, 2020

November 3rd, 2019, I delivered remarks on the closing panel of The New School/UMASS Amherst Graduate workshop held in New York City. The panel theme was “Broadening the boundaries of political economy”. I have since graduated and successfully gone through the job market. I hope my remarks from last year can serve as encouragement for fellow female, black, African-American, Latinx, and ethnic minority economic students, as well as all students in the field who have ever felt discriminated against. I also hope that it can help my colleagues understand the importance of fighting against misogyny and racism in the field.

 

“Broadening the boundaries of political economy” Remarks by Luiza Nassif-Pires:

“A couple of weeks ago, when Mark [Setterfield] sent the e-mail announcing the theme of the closing panel this year “Broadening the boundaries of Political Economy” I had this unstoppable urge to participate and say something about diversity. I really had to take a step back last night (the second time my watch said it was 1 am) to analyze: What on earth was I thinking when I decided to add one more commitment to my crazy ‘thesis writing while working four jobs and going on the job market’ schedule? What is this urge to say something about diversity that kept me working late on a Saturday night?

To explain this urge I will try my best to walk you through a very specific sentiment I had last night. You see, I have been educating myself to go on the job market, I have been studying feminist economics for a while; this means reading a lot about discrimination. So I really thought I already knew all the ways in which being a Brazilian female will affect my ability to not become yet another statistic in the leaking pipeline of the gendered economic profession. So, please, picture yourself exhausted from a lot of work and proud of a paper forthcoming co-authored with a male Professor suddenly reading this:

“Sarsons (2015) using data from the CV of economists,…, documented that, while an additional coauthored paper for a man has the same effect on the likelihood of tenure as a solo-authored paper, women suffer a significant penalty for coauthoring, especially when their coauthors are men.”

Bayer and Rouse (2016)

Well, clearly my urge to be here today discussing diversity is a survival reflex. But also, it really takes someone that feels this burden to be able to express and expose it. With that comes a certain moral obligation, one that I take seriously as a privileged Brazilian woman in a Ph.D. program in the US.

Around now you should be asking yourself, what does all this have to do with broadening political economy? Well, I have established so far that I believe that fighting for diversity is a survival reflex and a moral obligation. I want to now argue that it is also necessary to improve our theories. continue reading…

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The Pandemic, “Flexible” Work, and Household Labor in Brazil (Interview)

Luiza Nassif Pires | December 1, 2020

[The following is an interview by Paula Quental of Lygia Sabbag Fares, one of my coauthors for this post on how home quarantine has impacted domestic violence. The interview originally appeared in Portuguese and is posted here with permission.]

 

Labor market deregulation is bad for all workers and even more perverse for women, says economist.

According to Lygia Sabbag Fares, a specialist in Labor Economics and Gender Studies, labor reform is a way for the powerful to transfer the burden of productive costs to workers. According to Dr. Fares, there is no indication that a more egalitarian division of domestic chores between men and women, a supposed “gain” from the pandemic, will be sustainable in the future.

by Paula Quental

The discourse in defense of work flexibility—including working hours with a bank of hours, part-time, work on weekends, and relay shifts, among other measures—usually touts the advantages for workers, especially for those (in general, women) who need to reconcile hours worked with domestic duties. This argument has gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic, considering the spread of the home office and a supposedly more equal division of domestic tasks between men and women.

According to the economist Lygia Sabbag Fares—professor at the Escola Superior de Administração e Gestão Strong, certified by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), PhD in Economic Development and specialist in Labor Economics at Unicamp, holder of a master’s degree in Labor Policies and Globalization from the University of Kassel and the Berlin School of Economics and Law (Germany)—the reality is quite different from what the work flexibility enthusiasts believe. According to her studies, these processes “are driven by capital, with the objective of obtaining profits and externalizing costs, following the capitalist model of production under the aegis of neoliberalism”. The result is severe job insecurity, or greater pressure in the case of more competitive jobs, and in both situations, women are the most affected.

There is also no guarantee, according to her, that in the post-pandemic scenario, couples will still push to share domestic chores relating to their home and children. The net result of this period seems to be more negative than positive, considering the increase in domestic violence and divorce.

Read the following interview with the Brazilian professor, who has just received an invitation to teach at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, in the United States: continue reading…

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India’s Unexplored “Bill of Rights”: A Tool for Gender-Sensitive Public Policy

Lekha Chakraborty | March 3, 2017

The Justice Verma Committee submitted its report on January 23, 2013. In addition to recommendations for reforming laws related to sexual violence, harassment, and trafficking, it provided a comprehensive framework for gender justice through a proposed “Bill of Rights.” The Verma Committee’s recommendations are still waiting to be transformed into public policy.

We must not forget that this document represents an intense 30 days of work in response to a brutal gang rape of a young student in the heart of the nation’s capital in a public transport vehicle in the late evening of December 16, 2012. She was returning home with her friend after watching “Life of Pi.”

The power of this report is the acknowledgment (in the very first line of the report) that this brutal event represents a “failure of governance to provide a safe and dignified environment for the women of India, who are constantly exposed to sexual violence.” The acknowledgement is a clarion call for government policies to ensure dignity, safe mobility, and security for women.

“Bill of Rights”

The Bill of Rights is a proposed charter that would set out the rights guaranteed to women under the Constitution of India, against the backdrop of India’s commitment to international conventions. These rights are articulated as the right to life, security, and bodily integrity; democratic and civil rights; the right to equality and non-discrimination; the right to secured spaces; the right to special protections (for the elderly and disabled); and the right to special protection for women in distress.

The beauty of this Bill of Rights is that, unlike public policy approaches in which women facing differing challenges and circumstances are all treated the same, a careful analysis of heterogeneity is captured in these five dimensions (in this context, it is noteworthy that the Committee’s work is informed by Amartya Sen’s “capabilities approach”). Conceptually, the Bill of Rights lays out an analytical framework for gender budgeting to be conducted in the realm of “internal security.” When translating the Bill of Rights into policy, we need to examine existing budgets through a “gender lens” and rectify the deprivations thereby revealed.

Gender Issues in Public Policy

After every Union Budget, questions arise as to “what’s in it for women?”, but these debates have been largely been confined to just the rise and fall in allocations. The “rule of law” is a public good. The purpose of this post is to highlight this significant policy document—lying largely unexplored and with its recommendations mostly untouched—on women’s rights in India. Though the Verma Committee report was constituted to recommend “amendments to the Criminal Law so as to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals accused of committing sexual assault against women,” it is written in a broader context than just analyzing the legal codes.

The mere existence of the best-designed democratic institutions does not guarantee success: as noted by the Verma Committee report, even perfect laws would remain ineffective without the “individual virtuosity” of the human agency necessary for implementing the laws. Similarly, although gender budgeting—a silent revolution that integrates gender consciousness into fiscal policy frameworks—has been applied in the case of a few public expenditure budgets, it has remained sporadic and ineffective, in part due to insufficient capacity-building among the bureaucracy and a lack of accountability mechanisms.

Will the Fifteenth Finance Commission Integrate Gender?

In a co-operative federalism, it is high time that the Finance Commission “own” and integrate the gender concerns articulated in the Verma Committee’s proposed “Bill of Rights”—either in formula-based unconditional grants with a gender indicator/index as one of the criteria (just as a “climate change” variable appeared in the formula of the Fourteenth Finance Commission in sharing the divisible tax pool with the States), or as specific-purpose grants to the States to engage in meaningful gender-budgeting fiscal policy practices at the subnational level. This idea has been analyzed in my papers published by the IMF (2016) and the Levy Economics Institute (2016; 2014; 2010).

The Bill of Rights framed in the Justice Verma Committee Report can form the foundation for gender budgeting in a “law and order” context. Gender budgeting in criminal justice is a public good and needs effective planning and financing strategies, but it has so far been limited to the creation of the “Nirbhaya Fund” (designed to fund new schemes for the safety and security for women, with an initial allocation of Rs. 1,000 crores), which has been unused since 2013.

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“Stimulus” Isn’t the Best Reason to Support (or Oppose) Infrastructure Spending

Michael Stephens | December 15, 2016

A little while back, Pavlina Tcherneva appeared with Bloomberg’s Joe Weisenthal to talk about the potential infrastructure policy of president-elect Donald Trump. She noted that, contrary to initial assumptions, the upcoming administration may not end up pushing public-debt-financed infrastructure spending, and that if the program simply amounts to tax incentives and public-private partnerships, it won’t be nearly as effective. But Tcherneva added another important dimension to this debate. (You can watch the interview here):

Tcherneva’s point is that infrastructure investment should be determined primarily by the state of dilapidation or obsolescence of our roads, bridges, etc., and not so much by the moment we occupy in the business cycle.

There are some who would argue that the time for a large fiscal stimulus has passed, with unemployment at 4.6 percent and growth continuing apace. There’s a good argument to be made that we’re not at “full employment” even at this moment, and that there’s no need to back off on stimulus (though there’s still the question as to whether the Federal Reserve would attempt to depress economic activity by raising interest rates in response to any substantial fiscal expansion — and, additionally, whether the Fed would succeed in those circumstances). But the point is, where you stand on this debate regarding the business cycle and the meaning of full employment shouldn’t be the driving factor behind infrastructure policy — we shouldn’t necessarily pursue or avoid infrastructure repairs and improvements for those reasons.

Moreover, if you’re looking for a job creation program, which Tcherneva would argue ought to be the point of “stimulus,” there are more effective options. In particular, she advocates a job guarantee that would provide paid employment at a minimally decent wage to all who are willing and able to work. Among other reasons, Tcherneva notes that such a program, which automatically expands during economic downturns and contracts in better times, is more effective as a countercyclical stabilizer, as compared to spending on infrastructure projects (read the tweet-storm version of the argument here).

And given that infrastructure seems to have become the go-to spending-side stimulus policy, we might also want to think about the distributive implications. continue reading…

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Call for Papers: Gender and Macro Workshop in NYC

Michael Stephens | November 30, 2016

New York City
September 13–15, 2017

A workshop organized by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College with the generous support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

The goal of this workshop is to advance the current framework that integrates gender and unpaid work into macroeconomic analysis and enables the development of gender-aware and equitable economic policies. We are interested in contributions that address the gender implications of macroeconomic processes and policies and examine mechanisms that link gender inequalities to macroeconomic outcomes. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Incorporation of the realm of unpaid productive activities into economy-wide models (e.g., SAM, CGE).
  • Analysis of the links that connect economic structure (e.g., sectoral composition of economy, degree of openness) and growth regimes (e.g., wage-led versus investment-led growth) with women and men’s economic outcomes and gender inequalities.
  • Assessment of the channels through which macroeconomic policies influence women’s and men’s economic outcomes and gender inequalities. These include fiscal policies and monetary policies related to interest rates, exchange rates, and financial markets.
  • Evaluation of the mechanisms whereby gender inequalities influence macroeconomic outcomes, such as aggregate output and employment and their sectoral composition, inflation, budget deficits, and current account balance.
  • Aspects of interconnections between unequal international economic relations (trade and finance) and gender inequalities.

The types of gender inequalities to be modeled may potentially encompass inequalities in care and unpaid work, labor force participation, employment composition (by sector and/or type of employment, such as formal or informal), education, and access to and utilization of social and financial services.

We invite theoretical contributions that utilize existing and novel macroeconomic modeling approaches as well as empirical studies, in particular those focusing on the dimensions of gender inequalities relevant to the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and other low-income economies. We are also interested in papers that provide a comprehensive picture of the state of the art, identify gaps, and indicate directions for future research.

Accommodation and travel-related expenses will be covered by the workshop organizers. Please submit your abstract using the form found here.

If you have any questions, please contact Ajit Zacharias at zacharia@levy.org.

Important dates:
500-word abstract due January 25, 2017
Acceptance notifications e-mailed March 1, 2017
Final paper due July 31, 2017

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The Problem with “Gender-Blind” Economics

Michael Stephens | October 7, 2016

Pavlina Tcherneva joins Laura Flanders to discuss the need for a more gender-aware economics:

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Folbre on Gender and Economics

Michael Stephens | February 8, 2016

Senior Scholar Nancy Folbre was interviewed by Woman’s Work on the wage gap and women’s underrepresentation in economics:

Folbre: [M]arket logic doesn’t apply to care of dependents, a more traditionally feminine obligation. Children, the sick, and the frail elderly don’t fit the preconditions for consumer sovereignty in market exchange. Most care of dependents takes place outside the market. Women generally take more responsibility for this care than men do. …

The whole concept of concern for other people or interdependent utilities or obligations for other people, these are largely absent from the market paradigm. The textbook assumption is that participants in the market don’t care about other people, they have independent preferences. They are basically making decisions based on prices and income. It’s a very narrow, stripped down characterization. In some instances, it may be accurate. But a lot of the work that women, in particular, do doesn’t involve impersonal transactions.

We live in a world shaped by a moral division of labor that is highly gendered.

Read the rest here.

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Want More – and Better – Jobs? Put Women in Charge

Tamar Khitarishvili | December 10, 2015

I was recently in Tbilisi to participate in a conference that took stock of what we know about the challenges of job creation in the South Caucasus and Western CIS.

While researching gender inequalities in the labour markets of these countries, I searched for evidence on how the challenge of job creation can be overcome without perpetuating gender inequalities in the region, and preferably, by reducing them.

I quickly discovered that there was no simple answer to this question. Nevertheless, I came away with a couple of key insights.

One was that expanding women-owned businesses could be a way to create more and better jobs.

Female-owned businesses not only tend to operate in labour-intensive sectors but – and more surprisingly – they have greater scale economies than male-owned businesses, which means that their performance benefits more from expansion.

Importantly, they tend to hire proportionately more women.

For example, in 2009 in Georgia, almost 60 percent of full-time workers in firms where women were among the owners were female, compared to 31 percent in firms without women owners.

This suggests that if we push for more female-owned businesses, we can create better jobs. It also suggests that private-sector development policies would be more effective if they had stronger gender components.

For example: Would tax breaks for start-ups with their own daycare facilities increase business formation rates?

Secondly, my research further convinced me of the need to tackle the issue of care work, a burden borne mostly by women.

Childcare burdens are a major factor preventing women-owned businesses from expanding and generating wage employment, which we know makes a dramatic difference in empowering them.

Childcare burdens also prevent women from seeking wage employment. Therefore, alleviating childcare constraints can carry us a long way towards expanding women’s economic opportunities.

It helps that, as independent new research finds, the expansion of the childcare sector directly creates more and better jobs for women – as well as for unemployed men. It is heartening that UN organizations are supporting such work.

Most certainly, a comprehensive approach will be needed to tackle the challenge of achieving inclusive job growth in the region and beyond.

Nevertheless, all this tells us that taking a gender lens to employment creation is an important part of the solution.

(cross-posted at UNDP’s Voices from Eurasia)

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Call for Papers: Gender and Macroeconomics Conference

Michael Stephens | June 11, 2015

Gender and Macroeconomics: Current State of Research and Future Directions

A conference organized by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College with the generous support of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

BGIA, New York City
108 W. 39 St., Suite 1000A
March 9–11, 2016

Call for Papers

The goal of this conference is to advance the current framework that integrates gender and unpaid work into macroeconomic analysis and enables the development of gender-aware and equitable economic policies. We are especially interested in topics relevant to Sub-Saharan African countries, including but not limited to:

  1. Relationships between economic structure (e.g., the relative importance of the service sector, agriculture, the care economy, trade, etc.), growth regime (wage-led versus investment-led growth), and gender inequities.
  2. Mechanisms and the extent to which unpaid work constrains women’s participation in paid work and access to economic opportunities.
  3. Implications of women’s labor market participation for their well-being and for intrahousehold allocation of time.
  4. Structural, macroeconomic, and microeconomic aspects of women’s employment in the informal sector.
  5. Formulation and analysis of gender-aware policy interventions.
  6. Frameworks for integrating the role of unpaid work in measures of well-being (e.g., time and income poverty).

We invite both theoretical and empirical studies and encourage submissions that employ innovative methodologies and new datasets. We are also interested in papers that provide a comprehensive picture of the state of the art, identify gaps, and indicate directions for future research.

Accommodation and travel-related expenses will be covered by the conference organizers. Please send your abstract via e-mail to Ajit Zacharias (zacharia@levy.org).

Important dates:

500-word abstract due July 1, 2015
Acceptance notifications e-mailed September 1, 2015
Final paper due February 1, 2016

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