More on feminism and economics

Further to points raised in JJ’s post, below: in the field of economic development, theorists have been looking at the relationship between gender inequality and economic growth. Stephanie Seguino argues, in a paper that looks at economic growth in Asian economies between 1975 and 1995, that (amongst other factors) gender inequality had a key role in boosting economic growth (this view is apparently at odds with research else where which suggests equality is good for growth).

(The reference is
Seguino, S. (2000) ‘Accounting for Gender in Asian Economic Growth’, Feminist Economics, 6 (3) pp. 27-58, but I’m afraid subscriptions are required).

The claim is that gendered economic structures, in which women receive lower pay, or perform unpaid domestic work, and accept a lower social and economic status, boost growth due to a number of factors:

  • women’s lower wages lowers unit labour costs (how much per product), so makes for good foreign exchange relations
  • women’s acceptance of lower status means risk of labour strife is lower (reassuring for investors)
  • women’s lower wages mean they have reduced bargaining status – with employers, husbands – so traditional family structures and hierarchies are maintained, control over women’s labour is sustained.

So, when it comes to economic growth, not exactly great motivation to address issues of gender equality, then. I’m not familiar with much of the literature or issues in this realm. Any one else?(thanks to .h. for passing this on)