Recession and Women

An article in the Observer suggests that women may be hit especially hard by the recession. (There’s also a bunch of unconvincing pop psychology waffle with almost no evidence suggesting that women wouldn’t have got us into this mess.)

One overlooked aspect of the downturn engulfing the UK is that it is a feminist issue. The default view is that male workers are the main victims of recessions, with women relegated to the role of supportive housewives, consoling their redundant menfolk. This crunch will be different: it is shaping up to be Britain’s first fully feminised recession. If the gender aspect of the economic crisis is ignored, it could jeopardise the progress towards equality at work, and threaten the financial independence many women prize and have struggled to achieve, as well as making families more vulnerable through the loss of a large chunk of household income….
In previous recessions, such as the 1980s downturn in the UK, women provided a backstop against male job loss because the sectors in which they typically worked, such as retail, catering and services, were not badly affected, but this time around it is precisely those areas of the economy that are in the front line.

Thanks for the link, Chris!

Oh noes!!!

UPDATE: Damn. Looks like they’re caving under criticism, and under Obama’s urging to cave. That really pisses me off.

Funding for contraception? Noooo, we can’t have that! Looking closely at this kind of uproar really does give the lie to the thought that right-wingers who oppose abortion are just concerned about the foetuses. If they were, they wouldn’t mind helping people to prevent the creation of foetuses that they don’t want to create. It’s also pretty rich for them to claim not to see how preventing unwanted pregnancies could be a financially good idea, given the never-ending criticism of those welfare moms supposedly sponging off the state by popping out babies just to get more cash.

Financial Effects of Divorce on Men and Women

One tricky thing about teaching feminist philosophy is that facts about the world really matter. So, for example, when you teach Okin on family structures and the effects of divorce, you can’t rest content with the statistics she uses– your students will quickly point out that they’re 20 years out of date. Even if you get stats from 5 years ago the students balk. And one of the places they balk most, I find, is on the claims about men’s post-divorce income improving while women’s decline. They will insist that now this is different because men pay so much maintenance and divorce settlements are fairer. Well, for at least a little while (and at least in the UK)*, you can cite this article, sent in by lp.

A few extracts:

Divorce makes men – and particularly fathers – significantly richer. When a father separates from the mother of his children, according to new research, his available income increases by around one third. Women, in contrast, suffer severe financial penalties…

Jenkins’s research found that the incomes of “separating husbands” rise “immediately and continuously” in the years following a marital split. “The differences between the sexes are stark,” he said. “But this is not so much a gender thing as a parent thing. The key differences are not between men and women, but between fathers and mothers.”…

Jenkins found that the positive effect on men’s finances is so significant that divorce can even lift them out of poverty, while women are far more likely to be plunged into destitution. Separated women have a poverty rate of 27% – almost three times that of their former husbands…

Maintenance paid by former partners also has little impact, said Jenkins, as just 31% of separated mothers receive payment from the father of their children.

*Note that this study is actually based on data collected 2001-2004. But that’s the way studies are– and it’s all the more reason to be as up-to-date as possible. The stuff that came out in 1990 is actually based on older data.