Intensive Course in Gender-Sensitive Macroeconomic Modeling for Policy Analysis

Day 1: Introduction to Gender Analysis in Economics and Feminist Economics

Session 1.1 Introduction to Gender Analysis in Economics and Feminist Economics

Instructor: Maria S. Floro


1. Overview of the Intensive Course

2. Introduction

a. Gender as a Social Construct

b. Intersectionality of Gender, Class, and Race/Ethnicity

c. Economics as a Socially Constructed Discipline

d. Feminist Economics and its Challenges to Mainstream Economics

e. Feminist Economics and its Contributions 

This session lays the conceptual groundwork for analyzing economic issues from a gendered perspective. It turns a critical eye on the different schools of thought in economics and how their analyses of real-world problems take on the lens of influential economists who are predominantly male. The required reading, Chapter 2 of Beneria et al. (2016) book on Gender, Development, and Globalization examine the evolution of the study of gender in economics through critique and engagement with different streams of thought neoclassical economics, Marxian theory, institutional economics, and heterodox economics. It then presents the central principles, main contributions, and emerging research agendas of the growing field of feminist economics, demonstrating how this field goes beyond the simple ‘add women (or gender) and stir’ approach to existing schools of thought. This chapter also describes the contributions of feminist economics to the analysis of provisioning activities and household dynamics as well as in engendering macroeconomics and ecological economics, which are central to envisioning gender-sensitive economic policies to build inclusive, sustainable economies. 

The second reading is supplementary and explores in more depth some of the key points in Beneria et al. (2016) reading. The supplemental reading, Chapter 1 of Ferber and Nelson (1993) book on Beyond Economic Man, is one of the seminal think pieces that brought attention to the fact that the underlying assumptions, topics and methods of mainstream economics reflect distinctly masculine concerns. Ferber and Nelson demonstrate that these male biases give supremacy of market relations over family and social relations, justify the preoccupation with market-based economic growth as a key economic development goal, and emphasize individualism while ignoring interdependence. 

Main Readings

Lourdes Beneria, Gunseli Berik and Maria Floro (2016). Gender, Development and Globalization: Economics as if All People Mattered. Routledge, Chapter 2: The Study of Women and Gender in Economics, pp. 41-86.

Ferber, M. and Nelson, J. (eds) (1993) Beyond Economic Man, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Introduction and Chap 1 pp. 1-32. 

Supplementary Readings

Marilyn Power (2004) “Social Provisioning as a Starting Point for Feminist Economics,” Feminist Economics, 10:3, 3-19, DOI: 10.1080/1354570042000267608

Lourdes Beneria, Gunseli Berik and Maria Floro (2016). Gender, Development and Globalization: Economics as if All People Mattered. Routledge, Chapter 3: Markets, Globalization and Gender, pp. 93-130. 

Session 1.2 Gender Relations in Households

Instructor: Paula Herrera-Idárraga


1. Feminist critique of New Household Economics (NHE) (Becker’s model of the unitary household, comparative advantage, specialization, and division of labor).

2. Measuring household bargaining power. 

This session examines household gender relations from a feminist point of view departing from the seminal contributions of Folbre (1986) and Agarwal (1997). In every household, multiple decisions occur: from allocation of income over different expenses to asset use (i.e., house space, car, land production, stock to keep, stock to reproduce, etc.) to the division of paid and unpaid labor. These decisions can reflect both benefits and difficulties depending on the level of conflict and/or cooperation within the household. Household members may be affected differently from those decisions, which often result in

gender inequality against women that can persist over time. Women’s participation in the labor force and their income level can, to some extent, affect their bargaining power and even their ability to make decisions and use household economic resources. However, women’s ability to actively participate in the labor market and women’s bargaining power at home is also preconditioned by their community’s social norms. These norms, which are context and time-specific, define which issues can legitimately up for discussion inside and outside the household. The learning objectives are to reflect on the explanations for the gender division of labor in households and understand what determines women’s bargaining power within households. 

Main Readings

Folbre, N. 1986. “Hearts and Spades: Paradigms of Household Economics.” World Development, 14(2): 245-255.

Agarwal, B. (1997) “Bargaining” and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household.” Feminist Economics 3(1): 1-51. 

Supplementary Readings

Folbre, N. (2004) “A theory of misallocation of time” in Routledge IAFFE Advances in Feminist Economics, Edited by Nancy Folbre and Michael Bittman. Ch 1.

Anderson, S. and Eswaran, M. (2009). “What determines female autonomy? Evidence from Bangladesh”. Journal of Development Economics, 90(2): 179-191.