Economic Woman

Econometrics, gender, equity and more.

Boettke and McCloskey on feminist economics

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Here’s something I’ve been meaning to link to for awhile. Last month, The Austrian Economists’ Peter Boettke linked to this site with some friendly, if sceptical, thoughts on feminist economics:

I ask “don’t demand curves slope downward regardless of gender or sexual orientation?”  For example, hasn’t there been significant studies over the years that have attempted to control for various factors (e.g., occupational choice, job tenure, educational choice, etc.) in the wage gap, and once these are taking into account the gap closes significantly.

I did not respond at the time, in part because I was a little starstruck – the post mentions me alongside Deirdre McCloskey – and also because I figure this blog is a sort of long, gradual response. But briefly, controlling for the factors Boettke mentions does close the gap somewhat, but not completely, as I’ve written before. In a broader sense, we can also be interested in why women make occupational and educational choices differently than men, and what welfare effects result.

In any case, the post is worth reading, and so are the comments. McCloskey herself has dropped in with better points than I could have made:

Sure, the technical points about Max U go on holding regardless of who wields the bordered Hessian matrix. And to push one step back from that formal point, sure, demand curves slope down, regardless of gender. […]

But as some here have suggested, there’s a wider context, yes? In The Bourgeois Virtues I suggest that an economics that works only with the virtue of Prudence is going to, sometimes, get into trouble. Not always, but sometimes, and those some times are pretty important. A feminist economics admits other virtues and vices beyond Prudence Only. With economic results.


Written by Allison

22 June 2008 at 10:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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