Friday, April 01, 2005

Engendering Macroeconomics - Gender & Macro

I know I use some corny headlines, but I didn't write this one. It's GEM-IMG's very own, and I suspect the intent was not to be corny but to use gender-speak.

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The International Working Group on Gender, Macroeconomics, and International Economics (GEM-IWG) is an international network of economists that was formed in 1994 for the purpose of promoting research, teaching, policy making and advocacy on gender-equitable approaches to macroeconomics, international economics and globalization. Some of their work can be found in World Development, December 1995, special issue on Gender, Adjustment and Macroeconomics and World Development, July 2000, special issue on Growth, Trade, Finance and Gender Inequalities.

The first special issue, beyond showing that a variety of macroeconomic policies have different effects on men and women, demonstrated that gender inequality also shaped macroeconomic performance. The papers in the second issue explore further the relationship between gender inequality and macroeconomic outcomes and extend the analysis to incorporate international investment, and financial and trade liberalization.
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Regretably the deadline for applications the Summer Program 2005 has passed.

I wonder if different macroeconomic policies have different effects on different kinds of families, and whether this is a more relevant question. Example: It's not exactly macroeconomics, but PowerLine takes note that the "The Employment Policies Institute has calculated the average family income of employees who would benefit from an increase in the minimum wage based on Census Bureau Data (click here). According to the EPI breakdown (based on 2003 data), the average family income of Minnesota's destitute minimum wage workers is...$57,421."

Read that again: $57,421.

As I was relating to my students just the other day, the unintended consequence of the minimum wage in the U.S. is that it enriches white middle class families with working teenagers and further impoverishes working class black families. When you show students the unintended consequences of the minimum wage I've noticed that in South Carolina and in the United Arab Emirates there are some students who will ask this question in class: "Say what? You said the purpose of the minimum wage law was to benefit the poor. Why are you teaching us about something that shows the opposite effect?" Though they feel confused, such a student has learned a lot in 50 minutes.

Just when you thought there was nothing more to add to the story of minimum wages the blogosphere brings us a surprisingly fresh conversation. Start at the Cafe Hayek here and Gretel-wise follow the links til you get to the powerline.

Oh, and speaking of the economics of gender, I should also point to Deirdre McCloskey's recent evisceration of the Card/Krueger fast food minimum wage study. (Deirdre McCloskey and Stephen Ziliak. Size Matters: The Standard Error of Regressions in The American Economic Reviewā€¯. Journal of Socio-Economics.) As summarized in The Economist:
Indeed, so pervasive is the cult of statistical significance, say the authors, that ever more economists dispense altogether with the awkward question of whether the patterns they uncover have anything meaningful to say about the real world. Examples are legion, and can be found in the work of very distinguished economists. In a widely quoted study of the minimum wage two Princeton University professors, Alan Krueger and David Card, claimed to show that, contrary to what you might expect, a rise in minimum wages caused less unemployment, not more. Though their statistics looked compelling, professors McCloskey and Ziliak say, they seemed to indicate, at best, a rise in employment so small as to be economically insignificant. Moreover, the paper did not address why this surprising result might be true (although the authors have discussed that question elsewhere).
Emphasis added.


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