Research Programs

Gender Equality and the Economy

Gender Equality and the Economy

While gender inequalities have diminished in some aspects of life, they remain deeply rooted in others. The vast majority of women around the world do not enjoy equality in economic participation, physical security, access to land, and financial resources or earnings. Closing gender gaps requires policy interventions that enhance women's economic opportunities and outcomes.

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), as an integral and key component of all economies. Ultimately, the program seeks to contribute knowledge and recommend policies that promote gender equality.

Our Research
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 (LIMEW) was established in order to improve existing official measures of economic well-being and to allow for accurate cross-sectional and intertemporal comparisons. GEE has enhanced this area of the Levy Institute’s work by developing research on the intersection of gender inequality, expanded income, and time poverty. This research—including the reexamination of UN indicators for measuring gender inequality, new analyses of time-use data, and work preparatory to formulating alternative policy indicators—was central to the development of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty, a new, innovative income measure that accounts for the negative impact time deficits exert on living standards.
 
GEM-IWG
The International Working Group on Gender, Macroeconomics, and International Economics (GEM-IWG) is a global network of economists formed for the purpose of promoting gender equity in the context of the world economy. GEE has partnered with GEM-IWG in organizing a series of seminars and conferences that are designed to promote a more focused international dialogue on the social dimension of globalization, and to explore the relationship between gender inequality and the economic liberalization policies that underpin the globalization process. The series is ongoing:
 
 
Network

Associated Program

The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty



Program Publications

  • Working Paper No. 921 | January 2019
    This paper is a comparison between two programs implemented to combat poverty in Latin America: Prospera (Prosper) in Mexico and Asignación Universal por Hijo (Universal Assignment for Child) in Argentina.
     
    The first section offers a review of the emergence of the welfare state, examining economic and urban development in both countries and the underlying trends of social policy instruments.
     
    The analysis is based on the political nature of social problems and the actions undertaken to confront them. The paper offers a theoretical perspective, often questioning the very foundation of the social policy that serves as the main framework for the social programs, in order to present the policies’ scope, successes, and disadvantages with reference to social equity and the well-being of their participants.

  • Working Paper No. 920 | January 2019
    Efficacy of Gender Budgeting in Asia Pacific
    Gender budgeting is a fiscal approach that seeks to use a country’s national and/or local budget(s) to reduce inequality and promote economic growth and equitable development. While the literature has explored the connection between reducing gender inequality and achieving growth and equitable development, more empirical analysis is needed on whether gender budgeting reduces gender inequality. Our study follows the methodology of Stotsky and Zaman (2016) to investigate the impact of gender budgeting on promoting gender equality across Asia Pacific countries. The study classifies Asia Pacific countries as gender budgeting or non-gender budgeting according to whether they have formalized gender budgeting initiatives in laws and/or budget call circulars. To measure the effect of gender budgeting on reducing inequality, we measure the correlation between gender budgeting and the Gender Development Index (GDI) and the Gender Inequality Index (GII) scores in each country. The data for our gender inequality variables are mainly drawn from the IMF database on gender indicators and the World Development Indicators database over the 1990–2013 period. Our results show that gender budgeting has a significant effect on increasing the GDI and a small but significant potential to reduce the GII, strengthening the rationale for employing gender budgeting to promote inclusive development. However, our empirical results show no prioritization of gender budgeting in the fiscal space of health and education sectors in the region.
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    Author(s):
    Lekha S. Chakraborty Marian Ingrams Yadawendra Singh
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  • Working Paper No. 899 | January 2018
    The goal of this paper is to examine the patterns and movements of the gender pay gaps in the countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) and to place them in the context of advanced economies. We survey over 30 publications and conduct a meta-analysis of this literature. Gender pay gaps in the region are considerable and above the levels observed in advanced economies. Similar to advanced economies, industrial and occupational segregation widens the gaps in the FSU countries, whereas gender differences in educational attainment tend to shrink them. However, a much higher proportion of the gaps remain unexplained, pointing toward the role of unobserved gender differences related to actual and perceived productivity. Over the last 25 years, the gaps contracted in most FSU countries, primarily due to the reduction in the unexplained portion. Underlying the contraction at the mean are different movements in the gap across the pay distribution. Although the glass-ceiling effect has diminished in some FSU countries, it has persisted in others. We investigate the reasons underlying these findings and argue that the developments in the FSU region shed new light on our understanding of the gender pay gaps.

  • Policy Note 2017/4 | November 2017
    The predominant framework for measuring poverty rests on an implicit assumption that everyone has enough time available to devote to household production or enough resources to compensate for deficits in household production by purchasing market substitutes. Senior Scholar Ajit Zacharias argues that this implicit bias in our official poverty statistics threatens to undermine the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    The SDGs include the following targets: (1) reduce the incidence of poverty by 50 percent by 2030, and (2) recognize and provide support to the unpaid provision of domestic services and care of persons undertaken predominantly by women in their households. This policy note suggests that a closer link exists between poverty reduction and support for household production activities than is commonly acknowledged. Failure to recognize the link in policy design can contribute to failure on both fronts. To obtain a more accurate assessment of poverty, time deficits in household production must be taken into account.
     

  • Working Paper No. 888 | April 2017

    Using data from the 2003–14 American Time Use Survey (ATUS), this paper examines the relationship between the state unemployment rate and the time that opposite-sex couples with children spend on childcare activities, and how this varies by the socioeconomic status (SES), race, and ethnicity of the mothers and fathers. The time that mothers and fathers spend providing primary and secondary child caregiving, solo time with children, and any time spent as a family are considered. To explore the impact of macroeconomic conditions on the amount of time parents spend with children, the time-use data are combined with the state unemployment rate data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The analysis finds that the time parents spend on child-caregiving activities or with their children varies with the unemployment rate in low-SES households, African-American households, and Hispanic households. Given that job losses were disproportionately high for workers with no college degree, African-Americans, and Hispanics during the Great Recession, the results suggest that the burden of household adjustment during the crisis fell disproportionately on the households most affected by the recession.

  • Working Paper No. 884 | February 2017
    Evidence from Turkey

    Using data from the 2006 Turkish Time-Use Survey, we examine gender differences in time allocation among married heterosexual couples over the life cycle. While we find large discrepancies in the gender division of both paid and unpaid work at each life stage, the gender gap in paid and unpaid work is largest among parents of infants compared to parents of older children and couples without children. The gender gap narrows as children grow up and parents age. Married women’s housework time remains relatively unchanged across their life cycle, while older men spend more time doing housework than their younger counterparts. Over the course of the life cycle, women’s total work burden increases relative to men’s. Placing our findings within the gendered institutional context in Turkey, we argue that gender-inequitable work-family reconciliation policies that are based on gendered assumptions of women’s role as caregivers exacerbate gender disparities in time use.

  • Working Paper No. 882 | January 2017
    A Distributional Analysis of the Care Economy in Turkey

    This paper examines the aggregate and gender employment impact of expanding the early childhood care and preschool education (ECCPE) sector in Turkey and compares it to the expansion of the construction sector. The authors’ methodology combines input-output analysis with a statistical microsimulation approach. Their findings suggest that the expansion of the ECCPE sector creates more jobs and does so in a more gender-equitable way than an expansion of the construction sector. In particular, it narrows the gender employment and earnings gaps, generates more decent jobs, and achieves greater short-run fiscal sustainability.

  • Working Paper No. 880 | January 2017
    Evidence from Measures of Economic Well-Being

    The Great Recession had a tremendous impact on low-income Americans, in particular black and Latino Americans. The losses in terms of employment and earnings are matched only by the losses in terms of real wealth. In many ways, however, these losses are merely a continuation of trends that have been unfolding for more than two decades. We examine the changes in overall economic well-being and inequality as well as changes in racial economic inequality over the Great Recession, using the period from 1989 to 2007 for historical context. We find that while racial inequality increased from 1989 to 2010, during the Great Recession racial inequality in terms of the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (LIMEW) decreased. We find that changes in base income, taxes, and income from nonhome wealth during the Great Recession produced declines in overall inequality, while only taxes reduced between-group racial inequality.

  • Working Paper No. 865 | May 2016
    Why Time Deficits Matter

    We describe the production of estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Buenos Aires, Argentina, and use it to analyze the incidence of time and income poverty. We find high numbers of hidden poor—those who are not poor according to the official measure but are found to be poor when using our time-adjusted poverty line. Large time deficits for those living just above the official poverty line are the reason for this hidden poverty. Time deficits are unevenly distributed by employment status, family type, and especially gender. Simulations of the impact of full-time employment on those households with nonworking (for pay) adults indicate that reductions in income poverty can be achieved, but at the cost of increased time poverty. Policy interventions that address the lack of both income and time are discussed.

  • Working Paper No. 859 | February 2016
    A Technical Articulation for Asia-Pacific

    Against the backdrop of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, this paper analyzes the measurement issues in gender-based indices constructed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and suggests alternatives for choice of variables, functional form, and weights. While the UNDP Gender Inequality Index (GII) conceptually reflects the loss in achievement due to inequality between men and women in three dimensions—health, empowerment, and labor force participation—we argue that the assumptions and the choice of variables to capture these dimensions remain inadequate and erroneous, resulting in only the partial capture of gender inequalities. Since the dimensions used for the GII are different from those in the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), we cannot say that a higher value in the GII represents a loss in the HDI due to gender inequalities. The technical obscurity remains how to interpret GII by combining women-specific indicators with indicators that are disaggregated for both men and women. The GII is a partial construct, as it does not capture many significant dimensions of gender inequality. Though this requires a data revolution, we tried to reconstruct the GII in the context of Asia-Pacific using three scenarios: (1) improving the set of variables incorporating unpaid care work, pay gaps, intrahousehold decision making, exposure to knowledge networks, and feminization of governance at local levels; (2) constructing a decomposed index to specify the direction of gender gaps; and (3) compiling an alternative index using Principal Components Index for assigning weights. The choice of countries under the three scenarios is constrained by data paucity. The results reveal that the UNDP GII overestimates the gap between the two genders, and that using women-specific indicators leads to a fallacious estimation of gender inequality. The estimates are illustrative. The implication of the results broadly suggests a return to the UNDP Gender Development Index for capturing gender development, with an improvised set of choices and variables.