Posts Tagged ‘recession’
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research has released a fact sheet on gender earnings ratios in the United States. Their takeaway is that the wage gap has stagnated—women haven’t made any relative progress during the recession.
As I’ve said before, I don’t much like straight earnings ratios, and I wish they weren’t thrown around quite so often and with so little context. (By this I don’t mean to criticize the IWPR, which always does a pretty good job explaining its work.) I think most readers immediately interpret that 77 cents on the dollar gap as the gap between similarly qualified workers in the same jobs. But of course that isn’t what it is, and by lumping occupational segregation and family structure in with more straightforward kinds of discrimination, we lose a lot of valuable information.
There is some potentially interesting stuff here about the “mancession“, though. Recessions tend to temporarily reduce gender inequality because, the theory goes, men are employed in more volatile industries, like construction. This has been widely reported over the last year or so, as gender employment gaps and ratios in Canada and the US have soared. (Unfortunately, a lot of media reports have made it sound like this is a new thing, rather than something that has surfaced during every recession in recent memory.)
There’s more to it than that, though. Someone (I can’t for the life of me remember who) predicted that this recession would hit women harder than usual, because the industries affected first—banking and real estate—employ a lot of women. Looking beyond the unemployment rate, the IWPR finds something that might fit in with this original view:
The earnings gap tends to become smaller during recessions. That pattern does not hold in this recession because the men who were able to hold onto full-time year-round jobs had, on average, higher-wage jobs than similarly situated women.
Feminist economists are continuing to make inroads in the blogosphere. Earlier this near, Nancy Folbre, an econ prof from UMass Amherst, joined the blogging team at the New York Times’ Economix. (I’ve written about Folbre before, linking to her own blog, Care Talk.) She’s posted a steady stream of intelligent content, and anyone reading this blog should definitely be reading her as well.
During this recession, many other problems, including huge bank bailouts, are competing for public attention and taxpayers’ money. Sometimes I wonder how closely the Child Well-Being Index would mirror an Adult Wrong-Doing Index. If I were going to construct such a new index, financial malfeasance would rank high among the measurement domains. But in the composite, apathy among those who could do more to help poor children would receive at least an equal weight.
Estimates vary, but it looks like the abortion rate has ticked up with the recession. Would it be too crass to call abortion a countercyclical asset? Of course, it’s hard to be more offensive than the anti-choice movement, as quoted at Double X:
“Americans, coming off years of hedonism and credit card spending orgies, are now increasingly aborting their babies who were unfortunate enough to be conceived during this economic recession,” Christian radio show host Ingrid Schlueter writes on her blog. “Gone is anything remotely related to the spirit of America past where difficulties were not solved by taking the coward’s or murderer’s way out, but by fulfilling one’s duty and taking responsibility for loved ones, no matter how hard the challenge.”
And who is Schlueter beating up on? Well, here’s a few heart-wrenching examples:
A pregnant woman in Oakland, Calif., already struggling to support three children and an unemployed boyfriend, couldn’t afford bus fare to the abortion clinic. “I just walked here for an hour,” she tells the clinic’s doctor. “I’m sure of my decision.” The same article quotes Stephanie Poggi, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds, who says her clients are telling her: “‘I’ve already put off paying my rent, my electric bill. I’m cutting back on my food.’ They’ve run through all the options.”
Let me get this straight. It’s selfish and unpatriotic to have more children than you can support yourself, but both contraception and abortion are murder? Radical social conservatives present so few options for their followers; I really wonder how they manage to attract any supporters outside the top tax bracket.