Feminism, Objectivity and Economics

Economists, Value Judgments, and Climate Change: A View From Feminist Economics
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These feminist economists argue that such claims have important economic outcomes which must be recognized within economic frameworks.

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Gender and the definition of economics JA Nelson na , Human Development Report What is needed to overcome the masculine biases of the profession is a richer conception of human understanding and human identity. Such food-share scales have been calculated for the U. The emphasis on rigor can be seen as an attempt to avoid sloppiness, the use of mathematical formalism as a way of catching errors that might go unnoticed in ordinary language, and the emphasis on selfinterest and competition as a way of avoiding a mushy sentimentality. To what extent do such models illuminate how families actually operate, instead of simply illuminating how individual-choice models operate?

Feminist economists join the UN and others in acknowledging care work , as a kind of work which includes all tasks involving caregiving , as central to economic development and human well-being. They argue that traditional analysis of economics often ignores the value of household unpaid work.

Feminist economists have argued that unpaid domestic work is as valuable as paid work, so measures of economic success should include unpaid work. They have shown that women are disproportionately responsible for performing such care work.

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"Nelson brings some of the most intriguing insights of two decades of feminism thoery to bear on Rational Man, the invisibility of women's economic production. Ferber and Nelson (), recent sessions on feminist economics at the meetings of the Objectivity, separation, logical consistency, individual accom-.

Sabine O'Hara argues that care is the basis for all economic activity and market economies , concluding that "everything needs care," not only people, but animals and things. She highlights the sustaining nature of care services offered outwith the formal economy. Riane Eisler claims we need the economic system, that gives the visibility to the most essential human work, that is caring for people and caring for nature. Measuring GDP only includes productive work and leaves out the live sustaining activities of the three sectors: the household economy, the natural economy and the volunteer community economy.

In those sectors most of the care work is done. By changing existing economic indicators in a way that they would measure also the contribution of mentioned three sectors we can get the accurate reflection of the reality. She names proposed indicators social wealth indicators. According to her those indicators will show the enormous return on investment ROI in caring for people and nature.

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Psychological studies have shown when people feel good, and they feel good when they feel cared for, they are more productive and more creative example case study [58]. In general, positive feelings flourish.

The quality of human capital rises. Most nations not only fail to support the care work that is still predominantly done by women, but we live in the world with gendered system of values. Everything that is associated with women or femininity is devalued or even marginalised.

Gender Economics | 15PECH | SOAS University of London

We need to leave behind the gender double standard that devaluates caring. Only then we can shift from domination to partnership and create a new economic model that Eisler proposes in her book The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics. Contributions of people and of nature present the real wealth of the society and our economic policies and practices must support caring for both she claims. Feminist economists have also highlighted power and inequality issues within families and households.

For example, Randy Albelda shows that responsibility for care work influences the time poverty experienced by single mothers in the United States. While much care work is performed in the home, it may also be done for pay. As such, feminist economics examine its implications, including the increasing involvement of women in paid care work, the potential for exploitation, and effects on the lives of care workers.

Systemic study of the ways women's work is measured, or not measured at all, have been undertaken by Marilyn Waring see If Women Counted and others in the s and s. These studies began to justify different means of determining value — some of which influenced the theory of social capital and individual capital , that emerged in the late s and, along with ecological economics , influenced modern human development theory.

See also the entry on Gender and Social Capital. Unpaid work can include domestic work , care work , subsistence work, unpaid market labor and voluntary work. There is no clear consensus on the definition of these categories.

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But broadly speaking, these kinds of work can be seen as contributing to the reproduction of society. Domestic work is maintenance of the home, and is usually universally recognizable, e. Care work is looking "after a relative or friend who needs support because of age, physical or learning disability, or illness, including mental illness;" this also includes raising children.

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Subsistence work is work done in order to meet basic needs, such as collecting water, but does not have market values assigned to it. Although some of these efforts "are categorized as productive activities according to the latest revision of the international System of National Accounts SNA The SNA recognizes that unpaid work is an area of interest, but "unpaid household services are excluded from [its] production boundary. Even accounting measures intended to recognize gender disparities are criticized for ignoring unpaid work.

In more recent years there has been increasing attention to this issue, such as recognition of unpaid work within SNA reports and a commitment by the UN to the measurement and valuation of unpaid work, emphasizing care work done by women.

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The method most widely used to measure unpaid work is gathering information on time use , which has "been implemented by at least 20 developing countries and more are underway" as of Techniques to gather this data include surveys, in-depth interviews, diaries, and participant observation. The first problem of measuring unpaid work is the issue of collecting accurate information.

This is always a concern in research studies, but is particularly difficult when evaluating unpaid work. But it is not always, and as a result some studies may undervalue the amount of certain types of unpaid work. Participant observation has been criticized for being "so time-consuming that it can only focus on small numbers of households," and thus limited in the amount of information it can be used to gather. All data gathering involves difficulties with the potential inaccuracy of research subjects' reports.

For instance, when "people doing domestic labor have no reason to pay close attention to the amount of time tasks take Men and women may both put in the same amount of time being responsible for children but as participant observation studies have shown, many men are more likely to 'babysit' their children while doing something for themselves, such as watching TV. Men's standards of care may be limited to ensuring the children are not hurt. Dirty diapers may be ignored or deliberately left until the mother returns.

Women and Economy

A second problem is the difficulty of comparisons across cultures. People still tend to talk about work and home as if they were separate spheres. Housewife, home manager, homemaker are all problematic and none of them conveys the sense of a women who juggles both domestic labor and paid employment. A third problem is the complexity of domestic labor and the issues of separating unpaid work categories. Time use studies now take multitasking issues into account, separating primary and secondary activities.

However, not all studies do this, and even those that do may not take into account "the fact that frequently several tasks are done simultaneously, that tasks overlap, and that the boundaries between work and relationships are often unclear. How does a woman determine her primary activity when she is preparing dinner while putting the laundry away, making coffee for her spouse, having coffee and chatting with him, and attending to the children?

Feminist economists point out three main ways of determining the value of unpaid work: the opportunity cost method, replacement cost method, and input-output cost method. The opportunity cost method "uses the wage a person would earn in the market" to see how much value their labor-time has.

The second method of valuation uses replacement costs. In simple terms, this is done by measuring the amount of money a third-party would make for doing the same work if it was part of the market. In other words, the value of a person cleaning the house in an hour is the same as the hourly wage for a maid.

Within this method there are two approaches: the first is a generalist replacement cost method, which examines if "it would be possible, for example, to take the wage of a general domestic worker who could perform a variety of tasks including childcare". The third method is the input-output cost method. This looks at both the costs of inputs and includes any value added by the household. This remainder represents the value of the other factors of production, primarily labor. One criticism of time valuation concerns the choice of monetary levels.

Feminism, Objectivity and Economics

How should unpaid work be valued when more than one activity is being performed or more than one output is produced? Another issue concerns differences in quality between market and household products. Some feminist economists take issue with using the market system to determine values for a variety of reasons: it may lead to the conclusion that the market provides perfect substitutes for non-market work; [63] the wage produced in the market for services may not accurately reflect the actual opportunity cost of time spent in household production; [68] and the wages used in valuation methods come from industries where wages are already depressed because of gender inequalities, and so will not accurately value unpaid work.

With this basic assumption underlying their calculations, the valuations produced serve to reinforce gender inequalities rather than challenge women's subordination.

Criticisms are leveled against each method of valuation. The opportunity cost method "depends on the lost earnings of the worker so that a toilet cleaned by a lawyer has much greater value than one cleaned by a janitor", which means that the value varies too drastically. The replacement cost method also has its critics.

What types of jobs should be used as substitutes? For example, should childcare activities "be calculated using the wages of daycare workers or child psychiatrists?