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Male bias in macro-economics???

by Ronald Rutherford Wed Aug 19th, 2009 at 07:07:57 PM EST

I know that many of the Diaries here are long and complex, but hopefully this diary is just to get some ideas on a question that the bloggers here might be able to help with. The question is posed in the following manner:

"Male bias in macro-economics is not only bad for women; it is also bad for the prospects of setting in train a process of sustainable development." (Elson, 1991)
Discuss this statement in the context of the effects of structural adjustment policies on the role of women in the development process.
...
[what do the articles] reveal about the respective roles of women and men in employment and in the household.

Here are the list of "sources" to begin with, but there is no restrictions on source of information to answer the question:
Boserup, Ester (1970) Women's Role in Economic Development, London: George Allen &
Unwin.

Boserup, Ester (1991) `Economic Change and the Roles of Women' in Tinker (ed.)
Op.cit.

Elson, Diane (1991) `Male Bias in Macroeconomics: The case of structural adjustment'
in Elson (ed.)Male Bias in the Development Process, Manchester University Press,
1991.

Evans, Alison (1991) `Gender Issues in Rural Household Economics', IDS Bulletin, Vol
22, No 1.

Moser, C. (1993) `Gender roles, the family and the household', Chapter 2 from Rationale
for Gender Planning in the Third World, pp 29-34, London: Routledge.

I know most of the list of sources are not available on-line so a couple of links of note that is related to the concepts are here and hopefully maybe others might have some links that might help answer the question:
ENGENDERING MACROECONOMIC POLICY AND BUDGETS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT  by Diane Elson

Caroline O.N. Moser, "Gender Planning in the Third World: Meeting Practical and Strategic Gender Needs", World Development, Vol. 17, No. 11, pp. 1799-1825, 1989.

In this seminal article the author proposes a gender roles framework for gender planning that leads to a differentiation of needs. The argument is based conceptually on the identification of the triple role of women and makes the distinction between practical and strategic needs articulated here for the first time. Welfare and efficiency approaches to low income and Third World Women are critiqued from a gender planning perspective and emphasis placed on the need for shifting policy towards an anti-poverty, equity and empowerment approach.

Caroline O.N. Moser, Gender Planning and Development: Theory, Practice & Training, Routledge: London and New York, 1993.

Gender planning is defined as a new and transformative planning tradition, one that seeks to empower women. The need for differentiation of gender roles and needs in society is considered the conceptual basis for gender planning and constitutes the basis for a critique of existing development policy and practice. Institutionalization of gender planning and operational procedures for implementing gender policies, programmes and projects are central subjects for consideration. The distinction between a technical planning methodology to meet women's practical needs and a 'political' methodology to meet women's strategic needs informs much of the discussion including the outlines for gender training methodology.

What do you think?


Display:
Since NCE is a hot subject here and may be related to this subject and I suspect that many here are Keynesians {hopefully Neo-Keynesians}, let me provide another quote from Elson's paper that may prompt a response:
When challenged, economists do not deny that human resources require inputs of caring and cooking, of nurturing and nursing; and do not deny that responsibility for providing these inputs lies chiefly with women. But macro-economic thinking assumes that it is perfectly correct to proceed as if such activities were not required because they would be undertaken regardless of changes in the level and composition of national income. This assumption may be based either on the idea that reproduction and maintenance of human resources is undertaken for love, not money, and is therefore not responsive to economic changes (Roston (1983) argues that Keynes's macro-economics is based on this assumption); or on the idea that changes in the level and composition of national income have no impact on the relative costs and benefits of maintaining and reproducing human resources. This assumption would be more consistent with neo-classical economics, which does assume that the reproduction and maintenance of human resources is responsive to economic signals (for example, Becker, 1976). Both the Keynesian and the neo-classical view are one-sided. Unpaid domestic labour is not carried out entirely for love, disregarding the economic costs and benefits; but neither is it simply another economic activity. The process of the reproduction and maintenance of human resources is different from any other kind of production because human resources are treated as having an intrinsic value, not merely an instrumental value. ...


Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 at 01:37:45 PM EST
This subject is brought up in Eric Zencey's recent diary, Achieve Sustainability? Dump GDP
 The following is from his excellent diary.

As a measure of well-being, GDP is at best imperfect (let's be honest:  fatally flawed) for several reasons.  One, it doesn't include a great deal of production that has economic value.  Neither volunteer work nor unpaid domestic services--housework, child rearing, home improvement--make it into the accounts, and our general level of economic well-being benefits mightily from both.  Nor does GDP include the huge economic benefit that we get directly, outside of any market, from nature.  A mundane example:  If you let the sun dry your clothes, the service is free, and doesn't show up in GDP; if you throw your laundry in the dryer, you burn fossil fuel, increase your carbon footprint, make the economy more unsustainable--and give GDP a bit of a bump.

I must agree that de-emphasis of GDP and utilization of a better measure would address your issue as well as better focusing economic policy making.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 20th, 2009 at 11:24:28 PM EST
I figured that there had to be some issues related in some ways to this esoteric study, but as far as GDP, Elson does not seem to want to dispose of the GDP so much as augment it as well as her matrix of effects that was in the link provided in diary. Anyway this is a quote from the text that explains my points:
Any worthwhile form of structural adjustment must be equitable and sustainable. It must not deplete and degrade resources, particularly human resources. This requires a view of macroeconomics that includes the reproduction and maintenance of human resources alongside conventionally included goods and services. It requires a national accounting system that accounts for unpaid labour as well as paid labour. It requires a diagnosis of the structural problems of development that includes gender barriers, as well as price distortions. It requires a strategy for tackling gender barriers as well as for improving the functioning of prices and markets.
So it seems she does not reject the current situations but wants expanded scope.

A while ago, I did write about alternatives to GDP and the series is:
GDP and GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator)? I
GDP/GPI Part Deuce-Wiki crticism of GDP
What's wrong with the GDP?"/GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator) Part 3
GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator) Part Four
The GDP Myth, Why "growth" isn't always a good thing
Not that I expect anyone to read it all, but at least showed an interest on my part.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 01:26:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is an entire discipline of feminist economics. I am not convinced that looking at development from a gendered perspective is necessarily helpful -- gender roles can differ, so the specific development setting should drive the perspective -- but it's probably better than having a neoclassical economics perspective.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 02:03:15 PM EST
From what I've read in feminist economics, it is mostly neoclassical economics. It just applies a feminist interpretation to results as well as a feminist perspective on what constitutes "interesting questions" within the field.
by santiago on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 05:08:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, what I've read of feminist economics is mostly criticism of neoclassical economics, but then I've only read a few more recent papers. The discipline seems to have really taken off from 1994, with its own journal.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 05:52:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I'm familiar with that journal.  It's very mainstream and not particularly critical of mainstream economics, although, like in other journals, there are occasional articles dealing with policy studies that seem to have an anti-mainstream edge to them.
by santiago on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 09:58:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they seem to be quite liberal towards the non-mainstream. From the current issue (which is free):

Feminist Economics of Inequality, Development, and Growth
Authors: Gnseli Berik a;  Yana van der Meulen Rodgers b; Stephanie Seguino c
Pages 1 - 33

Increased global economic integration, the adoption of market-oriented reforms, and a circumscribed role for the state in managing economies over the last few decades has caused income and wealth inequality to expand both within and between countries (Branko Milanovic 2005; International Labour Organization [ILO]2008).2 This trend is consistent with research findings in feminist economics, which has demonstrated that such policy reforms have worked against development and have generated intergroup inequality in gender, race/ethnicity, and class terms (Diane Elson and Nilfer aatay 2000; Gnseli Berik and Yana van der Meulen Rodgers 2008). Nation-states have attempted to avert rising inequality through a variety of policies (including labor market, social, and fiscal policies). However, much more research is needed to understand the appropriate balance of government regulation and market liberalization to set the stage for growth that reduces intergroup inequality (hereafter, inequality).

In this contribution, we reflect on linkages between inequality, development, and growth from a feminist economics perspective. We examine both the effect of macroeconomic policies and economic growth on inequalities in material resources and well-being and the effects of inequality on economic growth in an effort to identify policies that promote broadly shared development.

We argue that macroeconomic theory and policy should be constructed within the broader framework of human well-being, rather than being solely concerned with how economies function and the achievement of macroeconomic fundamentals such as price stability and robust growth rates. Human well-being requires at a minimum adequate provisioning (through interconnected paid labor and unpaid care activities and entitlements from the state or community); capabilities (the ability to do or be, based on provisioning); and agency (the ability to participate in decision making so as to shape the world we live in). This definition of well-being is consistent with that envisioned by the capabilities approach (Amartya Sen 1999; Martha Nussbaum 2003). This evaluative framework draws on the argument that social conditions and policies should be assessed according to the extent to which people have the capabilities to lead the kind of lives they want to lead and to be the person they want to be, such as the ability to be healthy and to seek education. Accordingly, development - what we refer to as broadly shared development - is synonymous with expansion of capabilities. In this framework, income inequality constrains the achievement of human well-being because it translates into unequal political and social power. This power differential inhibits not only equality of opportunities in access to education and health, but also agency and voice, which are constrained by the social and political institutions that emerge to justify material imbalances.

Do Gender Disparities in Employment Increase Profitability? Evidence from the United States
Authors: Ajit Zacharias a; Melissa Mahoney b
Pages 133 - 161

Gender relations can play a constitutive role in determining the key variables influencing the pace and rhythm of capitalist accumulation. Feminist economists have long recognized the effects of competition between male and female workers on the average level of wages: "Capitalists have indeed used women as unskilled, underpaid labor to undercut male workers, yet this is only a case of the chickens coming home to roost - a case of men's cooptation by and support for patriarchal society, with its hierarchy among men, being turned back on themselves with a vengeance" (Heidi I. Hartmann 1979: 222). However, the effects of such competition on the functional distribution of income or how the accumulation process itself may set the limits to such competition are questions that have not been given sufficient attention. Macrodynamic models that take gender relations explicitly into account are of recent vintage, but they suggest that the secular feminization of market work might boost profitability and growth in high-income countries (Korkut Ertrk and Nilfer aatay 1995; Korkut Ertrk and William Darity, Jr. 2000).

An important strand of the empirical work on the overall dynamics of accumulation in advanced capitalist nations focuses on dissecting the trends in aggregate profitability (Grard Dumnil and Dominique Lvy 1992; Robert Brenner 1998; Ajit Zacharias 2002). However, most of the empirical work on developed capitalist nations does not address the potential effects of gender disparity in pay or the feminization of employment on aggregate profitability. Our main purpose is to make a modest attempt to tackle this much-neglected question in the context of the upward swing of profitability in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s. Economic reasoning suggests that an important channel through which feminization influences profitability is via the wage share, which fell sharply in the US during this period. The conjunction of the three trends - rising feminization, falling wage share, and rising profitability - makes this period interesting from an analytical standpoint.


Do you often see post-marxist analysis (as in this second piece) in mainstream economics journals?
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 04:32:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you often see post-marxist analysis (as in this second piece) in mainstream economics journals?
In the texts I read yes. But it is more along the lines of Classical Economics so not so sure that it really is that radical as you seem to state-after skimming the paper.

Thanks for the links and discussions. But do I sense a change in feelings from:

There is an entire discipline of feminist economics. I am not convinced that looking at development from a gendered perspective is necessarily helpful -- gender roles can differ, so the specific development setting should drive the perspective -- but it's probably better than having a neoclassical economics perspective.
To the part I quoted earlier.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 02:55:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eeehm, what would that change in feelings be?
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 05:50:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe it had mostly due to this part: "gendered perspective is necessarily helpful". If you have not changed any feelings on this matter, then just forgive me for my stupidity and carry on...

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 06:07:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eeh, yes, well, I don't know what you are pointing at exactly, but I can try to summarily clarify  everything I intended and perhaps you can find something in the scattershot.

  1. I said that it was 'not necessarily helpful', to paraphrase, which means that I didn't think the approaches in the articles you exerpted would tend to be without troubles of their own -- all the same I also don't think that they are without merit
  2. My feelings about neomarxist or regulation school type economics (which I guess would be the right terms but I get lost in the terminology sometimes) are roughly the same
  3. My point with regard to Santiago was more that feminist economics is 'heterodox', i.e. is largely characterised by a set of perspectives (not necessarily all in harmony with one another) that deviate from the economic mainstream.
  4. The journal feminist economics seems to focus on the 'capabilities approach' of Sen and Nussbaum a lot and I think the capabilities approach is a very useful way of thinking about development and economics.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 06:49:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amartya Sen is very much a mainstream economist, and the fact that Sen's work is cited and discussed in most mainstream economics journals regularly shows how mainstream the capabilities approach and narratives around that approach are within the field. Feminist economics falls within that dialogue for the most part.  This differs from the institutionalist criticism of economics, or radical or Marxist schools of economics.  

To see the difference, Sen's basic argument in his research is this: "Let's assume you're right about self-interest being the best way to determine value, and then let's talk about how self-interest shouldn't be reduced to data-rich concepts such as income."  Most of feminist economics falls comfortably within that line of reasoning.

A non-mainstream argument goes more like this: "Let's assume you're wrong about the primacy of self-interest because it's impossible to determine how much interest is really self-determined and how much is determined by having surrendered power to a larger group." Much of feminist theory, as well as the fields of anthropology, sociology and policy studies in general, fall into this non-mainstream critique of economics, but feminist economics, by and large, does not, instead relying on the assumption of a more power and information being available to individual actors than not.

by santiago on Tue Sep 1st, 2009 at 11:38:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, I think we are just taking different notions of what is 'mainstream', in this case. As in, I used it to refer to neoclassical economics, whereas you are talking about all of what you could call liberal economics.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Sep 8th, 2009 at 08:03:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are micro, labor, welfare, and financial economics, for example, better represented with women? What about math or physics even?  
by santiago on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 05:10:59 PM EST
Economics deals with human interactions, mathematics and physics don't?
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 05:41:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... or else you mean "economics defined by problem domain rather than by analytical toolkit".

Economics as most commonly practiced within the profession does not deal with human interactions. It deals with asocial choosing machines, incessantly evaluating input information and making choices on the basis of that ...

... that hang around with others of the same ilk, thought it is not entirely clear why they would do so nor how a collection of such beings could survive in close proximity to each other.

There's a strand of mainstream economics that deals with human interactions, but it has to be careful to never ask questions that cannot be understood by the dominant group.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Aug 21st, 2009 at 11:19:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economics as most commonly practiced within the profession does not deal with human interactions.

And this, therefore, is the group against which Non-Autistic Economics was defined.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 12:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are micro, labor, welfare, and financial economics, for example, better represented with women? What about math or physics even?  

The question is whether it is biased and not necessarily better or worse represented.

Are you aware of any bias in any of those fields of study?

As far as a summary of how the micro analysis of the household is biased against women, it is derived from the fact of division of labor not only in society but also within the household. One of the key points in answering the diary question is through the Structural Adjustment Policies. The assumptions used in the texts have been the recognition that SAPs are necessary but that its effects on the genders is not neutral.

One way this affects women more is that SAP tries to divert resources from Non-Tradeables to tradeables. One aspect this will create is migration of men to urban centers for work. This leaves women with more autonomy but now even more work in managing the family and less direct connection with the labor wages of the male workers. That is remittances may be less than before the male members migration.

Also as some food stables become more expensive, women may choose food stuffs that are less expensive to stretch the budget but will take more unpaid labor to produce the household products. For example instead of buying bread on the market, they may need to buy the raw ingredients and that of course takes a lot more labor.

Anyway, just some points that may help spur some thoughts.

Thanks.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 01:36:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, unintended and neglected social consequences of "structural adjustment programmes" is par for the course (if we're talking about the IMF-peddled snake oil variants, at least...). Gender discrimination is arguably the least of the problems with those.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 03:29:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gender discrimination is arguably the least of the problems with those.
I guess I would have to be one to argue with that also. If it makes it harder for women in society to survive then are we to assume that you have little concern for their issues also?

You might want to take a look at the conversations happening at: Saving the World's Women

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sat Aug 22nd, 2009 at 09:45:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I mean that the IMF SAPs are so extraordinarily, exceptionally shitty at accomplishing even their official purpose that any additional defect really should not seriously surprise us.

When a policy makes everybody miserable (except a handful of lobbyists, banksters and (other) criminals), what you need to do is scrap the policy outright, not twiddle around the edges to make some groups possibly a little bit less miserable.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 23rd, 2009 at 02:09:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Considering that many countries use the same policies in a crisis as what the IMF may propose then it seems prudent to understand the causes and effects on sectors of the society.

Do you have anything to add?

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sun Aug 23rd, 2009 at 02:02:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We know how it affects different segments of society: It fucks over everybody who isn't an oligarch - preferably a white, English-speaking oligarch.

Of course it fucks over women. Because it fucks over just about everybody. Women, men, blue-collar workers, white-collar workers, the unemployed, farmers, ranch hands, and so on and so forth.

We also know why it affects people this way: Because it prohibits fiscal policy, mandates privatisations, prohibits nationalisations, prohibits regulation and prohibits ForEx policy. In other words, it demands that the country's wealth be handed to oligarchs for a pittance, while denying the state any and all effective measures for managing the economy.

Spending time and effort on deeper analysis of a programme that is so fatally flawed to begin with is like looking at the molecular composition of a dog turd to figure out why it stinks.

Which is fine by me, as long as you don't loose sight of the necessity of removing the dog turd (resp. abolishing the structural adjustment programmes).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Aug 23rd, 2009 at 03:38:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very well stated. Now...
Do you have anything to add?
For example any reaction or ideas to this article: ENGENDERING MACROECONOMIC POLICY AND BUDGETS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT  by Diane Elson

Or any of the papers at: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=g913340821
that you find interesting.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford

by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Sun Aug 23rd, 2009 at 03:59:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... labor and economic history p'raps.

Otherwise I'm not sure its much difference, the "New Macro" as in "micro models blown up go pretend to answer macro questions" would seem to be quite similar to most other fields of micro in terms of their filtering effects.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Aug 23rd, 2009 at 06:03:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let me add just another quote:
A greater economic role for women definitely improves their status within the family. A majority of them have more money to spend, and even more importantly, have a greater say in the decisions to spend money. Most women claim to be better treated as a result of their contribution to household income.... A substantial proportion of women feel that they should have a recognized economic role and an independent source of income.... Their attitudes evidence a clear perception of the significance of their work to family welfare and their own status within the family.

My wife's friend has a daughter that just got married and the family does not want her to work outside the family business selling sandwiches even though she has a bachelors degree in art and creative designing.

Rutherfordian ------------------------------ RDRutherford
by Ronald Rutherford (rdrradio1 -at- msn -dot- com) on Mon Aug 24th, 2009 at 06:04:37 PM EST


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