Gender Equality and the Economy
While gender inequalities have diminished in some aspects of life, they remain deeply rooted in others. In no country around the world do men and women enjoy equality in economic and political participation, earnings, educational attainment, general health, and physical security.
The Levy Institute’s Gender Equality and the Economy (GEE) program focuses on the ways in which economic processes and policies affect gender equality, and examines the influence of gender inequalities on economic outcomes. GEE’s goal is to stimulate reexamination of key economic concepts, models, and indicators—with a particular view to reformulating policy. It offers a broad view of what an economy is and how it functions, bringing into the analysis not only paid work, but also unpaid work (unpaid family work, work devoted to subsistence activities, caring for household members, and community volunteer work), an integral and key component of all economies. Ultimately, the program seeks to contribute knowledge and recommend policies that promote gender equality.
GEE research concentrates on two primary themes: the gender dimensions of macroeconomic issues and international economic policy; and gender equality, poverty, and well-being in national and international perspective. In the past decade, a growing body of work has explored how macroeconomic outcomes are affected by gender inequalities, and how gender inequalities are influenced by macroeconomic policies. Although gender equality is not the focus of macroeconomic policy, such policies cannot be assumed to be gender neutral. Does a requirement to balance budgets make it more difficult to reduce gender inequality? Given the inability of markets to guarantee a job for all who seek one, how can public policy that promotes full employment be inclusive of gender equality considerations? How can economic growth and gender equality be made compatible? Can gender equality improve the employment/inflation trade-off?
The Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being was established in order to improve existing official measures of economic well-being and allow for accurate cross-sectional and intertemporal comparisons. GEE will enhance this area of the Levy Institute’s work by developing research on the intersection of gender inequality, expanded income, and time poverty. Research will include the reexamination of UN indicators for measuring gender inequality and women’s empowerment, new analyses of time-use data, and the preparation of recommendations for the refinement of existing measures and/or the development of alternative indicators that can be used in policy formulation.
The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP)
In addition to income inadequacies, LIMTIP accounts for, and hence makes visible, the negative impact time deficits exert on living standards. Furthermore, this innovative measure builds on the supposition that, within the household, women and men do not partake equally in meeting household production requirements, nor do they face identical time deficits. Accordingly, to assess inequalities between households and among individuals within households requires that we consider differentiation jointly across both income and household production dimensions. For that, it is imperative to understand how labor force participation and earnings interact with time dedicated to household production responsibilities. Such an understanding is particularly important for formulating policies that promote gender, social, and economic justice coherently and consistently.
Joint UNDP — Levy Institute Study Focuses on Employment Guarantee Strategies
The recent financial turmoil has brought with it worldwide acceptance of the fact that, when markets fail, government intervention is indispensable. One manifestation of market failure, within the sphere of production, is the inability of private sector investment to absorb surplus labor. In such instances, government ought to intervene as the employer of last resort, pursuing a policy of public job creation, which is particularly beneficial in promoting inclusive growth and preventing the marginalization of poor, unskilled people. In addition to physical infrastructure, areas that have immense potential to create much-needed jobs include social service delivery and social infrastructure. A recent study, “Impact of Public Employment Guarantee Strategies on Gender Equality and Pro-poor Development,” carried out by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College and the United Nations Development Programme suggests that by bringing together public job creation and unpaid work, well-designed employment guarantee policies can promote job creation, gender equality, and pro-poor development, thus contributing toward achieving all Millennium Development Goals. The study focuses on experiences from two employment guarantee programs: the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in South Africa, and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) in India.
The UNDP–Levy Institute study was carried out under the direction of Senior Scholar Rania Antonopoulos. Documents relating to the South Africa and India case studies are available below.
Gender Equality and the Economy Program / GEM-IWG Seminar on Gender and the Global Economic Crisis, Bard College, Summer 2009
The Gender Equality and the Economy program (GEEP) of the Levy Economics Institute and the International Working Group on Gender, Macroeconomics, and International Economics (GEM-IWG) co-organized an intensive two-week seminar from June 29 to July 10 at the Institute’s main research and conference facility on the Bard College campus.
Gender Equality and the Economy Program / GEM-IWG Seminar on Gender, Macroeconomics and International Economics, Fall 2011
This year's GEM-IWG intensive two-week seminar and annual conference was co-organized by Women Studies Center in Science, Engineering and Technology of Istanbul Technical University, GEM-IWG, GEM-Turkey, GEM-Europe, and GEEP from October 9-17 on the campus of Istanbul Technical University.
Gender Equality and the Economy Program / GEM-IWG Seminar on Gender, Macroeconomics and International Economics, Summer 2012
In 2012, the GEM-IWG summer institute and annual conference was a collaborative effort between Jagiellonian University, Warsaw School of Economics, GEEP, GEM-IWG, GEM-Europe, and Heinrich Boll Foundation from July 17-29 at the Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland.
Working Paper No. 765 | May 2013Following the financial crisis of 2008, transition countries—the economies of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union—experienced an increase in female labor force participation rates and a decrease in male labor force participation rates, in part because male-dominated sectors were hit the hardest. These developments have prompted many to argue that women have been spared the full-blown effects of the crisis. In this paper, we critically evaluate this claim by investigating the extent to which the increase in the female labor force participation rate may have reflected a distress labor supply response to the crisis. We use the data on the 28 countries of the transition region assessed in the 2010 Life in Transition Survey. We find the presence of the female added worker effect, driven by married 45- to 54-year-old women with no children in the household. This effect is the strongest among the region’s middle-income countries. Among men, a negative relationship between labor force participation and household-specific income shocks is indicated.
Unlike the differences in the response to household-specific income shocks, the labor supply response to a weaker macroeconomic environment is negative for both men and women—hinting at the presence of the “discouraged worker” effect, which cuts across gender lines. We conclude that the decrease in men’s labor force participation observed during this crisis is likely a combined result of the initial sectoral contraction and the subsequent impact of the discouraged worker effect. For women, on the other hand, the added worker effect appears to outweigh the discouraged worker effect, contributing to an increase in their labor force participation rate. Our findings highlight the presence of heterogeneity in the way in which household-specific shocks, as opposed to economy-wide conditions, affect both female and male labor force participation rates.
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Press Releases | May 2013
Public Policy Brief No. 128 | April 2013
Is There Space to Promote Gender Equality in the Evolution of Social Protection?Social protection systems comprise public policies designed to prevent or alleviate economic insecurity and poverty. Throughout the developing world, social protection strategies and the dialogue surrounding them have recently been undergoing an important evolution. In this policy brief, Senior Scholar and Director of the Gender Equality and the Economy program Rania Antonopoulos highlights the opportunities and challenges for promoting gender equality and empowerment within this shifting policy landscape. Developed with financial support from the United Nations Development Programme, this brief is intended as an advocacy tool in the service of amplifying gender-informed policy considerations in country-level social protection debates.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 757 | March 2013
A Gender Perspective
This paper discusses social protection initiatives in the context of developing countries and explores the opportunities they present for promoting a gender-equality agenda and women’s empowerment. The paper begins with a brief introduction on the emergence of social protection (SP) and how it is linked to economic and social policy. Next, it reviews the context, concepts, and definitions relevant to SP policies and identifies gender-specific social and economic risks and corresponding SP instruments, drawing on country-level experiences. The thrust of the paper is to explore how SP instruments can help or hinder the process of altering rigid gendered roles, and offers a critical evaluation of SP interventions from the standpoint of women’s inclusion in economic life. Conditional cash transfers and employment guarantee programs are discussed in detail. An extensive annotated bibliography accompanies this paper as a resource for researchers and practitioners.
An extensive annotated bibliography accompanies this paper as a resource for researchers and practitioners.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 756 | February 2013
Does the Gender of the Migrant Matter?
Utilizing a nationally representative sample of households from Sri Lanka, this study examines gender differences in the long-term impact of temporary labor migration. We use a propensity score matching (PSM) framework to compare households with return migrants, households with current migrants, and equivalent nonmigrant households in terms of a variety of outcomes. Our results show that households that send women abroad are relatively poor and utilize migration to catch up with the average household, whereas sending a man abroad allows an already advantaged household to further strengthen their economic position. We also find that remittances from females emphasize investment in home improvements and acquisition of farm land and nonfarm assets, whereas remittances of men are channeled more toward housing assets and business ventures.Download:Associated Program(s):Author(s):Related Topic(s):
Public Policy Brief No. 126 | November 2012
Why Time Deficits Matter for Poverty
We cannot adequately assess how much or how little progress we have made in addressing the condition of the most vulnerable in our societies, or provide accurate guidance to policymakers intent on improving each individual’s and household’s ability to reach a basic standard of living, if we do not have a reliable means of measuring who is being left behind. With the support of the United Nations Development Programme and the International Labour Organization, Senior Scholars Rania Antonopoulos and Ajit Zacharias and Research Scholar Thomas Masterson have constructed an alternative measure of poverty that, when applied to the cases of Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, reveals significant blind spots in the official numbers.Download:Associated Program(s):The Distribution of Income and Wealth The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty Gender Equality and the EconomyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
One-Pager No. 34 | October 2012
The Importance of Time Deficits
Standard poverty measurements assume that all households and individuals have enough time to engage in the unpaid cooking, cleaning, and caregiving that are essential to attaining a bare-bones standard of living. But this assumption is false. With the support of the United Nations Development Programme and the International Labour Organization, Senior Scholars Rania Antonopoulos and Ajit Zacharias and Research Scholar Thomas Masterson have constructed an alternative measure of poverty that, when applied to the cases of Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, reveals significant blind spots in the official numbers.Download:Associated Program(s):The Distribution of Income and Wealth The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty Gender Equality and the EconomyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Research Project Reports | August 2012
Implications for the Measurement of Poverty
Customarily, income poverty incidence is judged by the ability of individuals and households to gain access to some level of minimum income based on the premise that such access ensures the fulfillment of basic material needs. However, this approach neglects to take into account the necessary (unpaid) household production requirements without which basic needs cannot be fulfilled. In fact, the two are interdependent and evaluation of standards of living ought to consider both dimensions.
This report provides an analytical and empirical framework that includes unpaid household production work in the very conceptualization and calculations of poverty: the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP). Based on this new analytical framework, empirical estimates of poverty are presented and compared with those calculated according to the official income poverty lines for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. In addition, an employment-generating poverty-reduction policy is simulated in each country, and the results are assessed using the official and LIMTIP poverty lines.
The undertaking of this work was initiated as a result of joint discussions and collaboration between the Levy Economics Institute and United Nations Development Programme Regional Service Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly the Gender Practice, Poverty, and Millennium Development Goals areas. It addresses an identified need to expand the knowledge base, conceptually, analytically, and empirically, on the links between (official) income poverty and the time allocation of households between paid and unpaid work.Download:Associated Program(s):The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty The Distribution of Income and Wealth Gender Equality and the EconomyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 727 | July 2012
The method for simulation of labor market participation used in the LIMTIP models for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico is described. In each case, all eligible adults not working full-time were assigned full-time jobs. In all households that included job recipients, the time spent on household production was imputed for everyone included in the time-use survey. The feasibility of assessing the quality of the simulations is discussed. For each simulation, the recipient group is compared to the donor group, both in terms of demographic similarity and in terms of the imputed usual hours, earnings, and household production produced in the simulation. In each case, the simulations are of reasonable quality, given the nature of the challenges in assessing their quality.Download:Associated Program(s):The Distribution of Income and Wealth Gender Equality and the Economy The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income PovertyAuthor(s):Related Topic(s):
Working Paper No. 726 | June 2012
The US Recession of 2007–09
The recession precipitated by the US financial crisis of 2007 accelerated the convergence of women’s and men’s employment rates, as men experienced disproportionate job losses and women’s entry into the labor force gathered pace. Using the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) data for 2003–10, this study examines whether the recession also occasioned a decline in disparity in unpaid work burdens and provided impetus for overall progress toward equity in the workloads, leisure time, and personal care hours of mothers and fathers. Controlling for the prerecession trends, we find that the recession contributed to the convergence of both paid and unpaid work only during the December 2007–June 2009 period. The combined effect of the recession and the jobless recovery was a move toward equity in the paid work hours of mothers and fathers, a relative increase in the total workload of mothers, and a relative decline in their personal care and leisure time.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):Günseli Berik Ebru KongarRelated Topic(s):