American University’s Department of Economics, Program on Gender Analysis in Economics (PGAE) and the Care work and the Economic (CWE) Research Team to present at the 28th International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) Annual Conference
The 2019 IAFFE conference theme, Solidarities and Challenges at the Intersection of Inequalities, brings together scholars, practitioners and activists engaged with the field of feminist economics to bring questions of ‘identity’ and ‘place’ into one of the most important debates in the current era: rising inequalities in income and wealth across the world.
AU Economics faculty, students, global scholars and affiliated researchers will be participating in various panel and roundtable sessions throughout the conference. See below for session details and stop by to meet us:
Care Economy: Paid and Unpaid Work in Korea
11:10 am – 1:00 pm
The Care Work and the Economy panel session will feature research team members including Jooyeoun Suh, Kisoo Eun and Seung-Eun Cha.
Households, Care and Unpaid Work: Households, power, and decision-making #2
11:10 am – 1:00 pm
AU PhD Student Hannah Randolph will be presenting her work on “Patterns of household time allocation after out-migration”
Households, Care and Unpaid Work: Households, power, and decision-making #4
2:30 pm – 4:20 pm
AU PhD Student Catherine Hensly will be presenting her work on “Familial Coping with Chronic Illness: Evidence from Malawi.”
Roundtable: Teaching Gender Analysis in Economics in the Global South
2:30 – 4:20 pm
Professor Mieke Meurs will be chairing the roundtable session on “Teaching Gender Analysis in Economics in the Global South” featuring PGAE Global Scholars Myagmarsuren Boldbaatar, Otgontugs Banzragch, Samanmala Doribawila, Ana María Tribin and Yady Barerro.
Households, Care and Unpaid Work: Households, power, and decision-making #1
8:30 am – 10:20 am
Professor Mieke Meurs will present “Women’s Time Use and Decision Making in Mongolia Herding Households” w/co-authors Otgo Banzragch & Migaa Boldbaatar of National University of Mongolia.
Persistent Inequality: Economic and Social Impact of Violence against Women and Girls
1:50 pm – 3:40 pm
Professor Maria Floro will be chairing the session on “Persistent Inequality: Economic and Social Impact of Violence against Women and Girls.”
Social and Economic Policies and Programmes: Work-life policies
8:30 am – 10:20 am
PGAE Global Scholar Samanmala Doribawila will be presenting on “Work-life balance Policy in Developing Countries compared to Developed Countries.”
Rethinking Macroeconomics II
8:30 am – 10:20 am
Professor Maria Floro will be chairing the session “Rethinking Macroeconomics II,” featuring presentations by members of the Research Team of the Care Work and the Economy Project, including Ipek Ilkkaracan, Ozlem Onaran, Marzia Fontana and Elizabeth King.
On May 15 – 19, AU’s Program on Gender Analysis in Economics (PGAE), in collaboration with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and the Women & Politics Institute at AU’s School of Public Affairs, hosted the Fulbright Seminar on Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE). For four-and-a half days, more than 60 international Fulbright Graduate Students heard from leading researchers, practitioners and advocates about key challenges and solutions in advancing women’s economic empowerment in the United States. Over 30 countries were represented by the Fulbrighters attending, include Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Cameroon, Lesotho, Guinea, Mali, Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, among others.
The Seminar kicked off with keynote address delivered by Dr. Heidi Hartmann, Founder and President of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and Distinguished Economist-in-Residence at AU. Dr. Hartmann laid out the multifaceted concepts of Women’s Economic Empowerment, including what it means, its significance, and what it requires. The keynote address also provided insight into the future of work for women, drawing on IWPR’s research on the potential impact of automation, artificial intelligence and other technological changes on women and men’s employment. See Dr. Hartmann’s presentation on WEE and the Future of Work.
CHALLENGES IN WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT (WEE)
The panels that followed focused on some of the key challenges in achieving WEE in the United States – including unpaid work and care work, lack of adequate apprenticeship opportunities, gender and racial segregation between and within occupations, and obstacles in women’s innovation and entrepreneurship.
Panelists shared insights about some of the puzzling trends in women’s economic participation, such as the persistent gaps in pay equity, employment and patenting despite the rise in women’s educational attainment. On the panel for Women’s Work, Sarah Gammage, Director of Gender, Economic Empowerment and Livelihood at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) argued that not only are care responsibilities a major contributing factor to gender gaps in employment, unpaid care work also prevents employers from effectively recruiting, retaining and promoting women employees. Potential solutions to WEE challenges were also presented – such as private sector opportunities to address care burdens, successful paid on-the-job training programs, and various strategies for promoting women’s participation and success in patenting, innovation and commercialization.
The Seminar featured several professional site visits to leading organizations in Washington, DC that are actively advancing WEE. At the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab, participants learned about innovative, evidence-based and scalable interventions that aim to close the gender gap in earnings, productivity, assets, and agency across Africa. Participants visiting the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) heard from IFPRI’s Poverty, Health, and Nutrition Division on pro-WEAI – a new tool for measuring women’s empowerment in agricultural development projects. Other organizations visited by Fulbrighters include the Washington Center for Equitable Growth (WCEG), EMD, Serono, Inc. and the Solidarity Center.
PROMISING PRACTICES AND POTENTIAL ACTIONS
Two sets of workshops provided participants with the opportunity to take a deeper dive into promising practices and potential actions in advancing women’s economic empowerment. The Student Parent Success Initiative (SPSI) workshop focused on the economic empowerment of student parents, specifically mothers – who are increasingly becoming the primary bread-earners for U.S. families. During the SPSI workshop, Lindsey Reichlin-Cruse, IWPR Study Director, described the barriers facing the 3.8 million U.S. college student parents (majority of them mothers) today, and the substantial economic returns associated with investing in student parents through support services such as childcare. Participants heard from IWPR’s Susana Contreras-Mendez and Tessa Holtzman about SPSI’s efforts to build momentum for student parents through rigorous research, tool-building, technical assistance, public education, and networking with key stakeholders.
Potential Actions Workshop challenged participants to propose original action ideas that advance WEE. Fulbrighters set forth a wide array of proposals, ranging from redistributing unpaid/care responsibilities through education reforms, to women-led coalitions that strengthen visibility and property rights, to helping survivors of sexual abuse using digital platforms, among others. The proposal voted best by participants – the “Jabeen” App, aims to combat adverse social norms through promoting positive women role models and amplifying women’s collective voice.
Professor Mieke Meurs concluded the Seminar with a reminder that there is no one-size-fits-all universal solution for women’s economic empowerment. To achieve women’s economic empowerment, researchers, experts, governments and organizations must focus on context with caution – in measuring, monitoring and working towards women’s economic empowerment.
Special thanks to the AU Gender Working Group, Faculty, Staff and Graduate Students who made the Fulbright Seminar possible:
AU Gender Working Group
Mieke Meurs, Professor and Chair, Department of Economics, American University
Jessica Leight, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, American University
Mahmud Yesuf, Assistant Department of Economics, American University
By Otgontugs Banzragch and Rentsenkhand Enkh-Amgalan
In October 2018, a group of Mongolian investigative journalists revealed corruption cases related to the Small Medium Size Enterprises (SME) Support Fund in Mongolia. The SME fund was established in the mid-2000s and it is one of 29 special funds that are financed from the central government budget.
The SME fund provides access to credit for new entrepreneurs at subsidized interest rates of 3 percent with extended periods of repayment. It was not meant for large corporation owners, parliamentarians, and bureaucrats to take out billions of MNT tugriks (up to MNT 2 billion—roughly USD 780,000) for their own and/or their family members’ businesses.
Unfortunately, members of parliament and politicians converted their privileged access to information into a license to steal from public funds. After five months since the SME scandal was disclosed in Mongolia, there have been no prosecutions due to parliamentary immunity. In addition, this scam has been obscured by a wave of new political scandals. While the country’s anti-corruption agency is investigating the SME case, public transparency is still missing.
Let’s take a closer look at this photo of public leaders who took out SME loans unethically and illegally. Just from this poster, you can notice that all but two are men. Is this a coincidence or does it imply a relationship between gender imbalance in political leadership and corruption?
There is strong global evidence on the positive relationship between women in political power and low corruption. A cross-country analysis of over 125 countries found that corruption is lower in countries where a greater share of parliamentarians is women. This finding is strongly aligned with the World Bank’s research, which concluded that a higher proportion of women in parliamentary seats was correlated with lower levels of corruption. These findings suggest that having women in political leadership could effectively reduce corruption. This research also hints at how an increased number of women in politics reflects a strong democracy. Therefore, the more democratic a country is, the lower the corruption levels are.
Moreover, by being in politics, women have more say in policies that directly affect women and are different from those favored by men. For example, women in local government in India have been reported to allocate a greater share of the budget to public goods such as health and education, suggesting that they are more likely to push a policy agenda that benefits effective public service delivery. Women are also more concerned about whether the subsidies were actually provided to the targeted group without corruption. 
Another reason why women could reduce corruption is that women, on average, are more risk-averse than men, and are therefore less likely to be involved in bribery. Corruption is a criminal activity, thus corrupt officials risk bearing legal and political consequences, which particularly holds true in societies where strict punishments and exposure of corruption exist. Additionally, women in politics are often held to a higher standard of scrutiny, which can translate to them facing more severe consequences for violating norms, compared to their male colleagues.
It is important to note that not all women are risk-averse. Additional research also found that male risk-taking tends to increase under stress, while female risk-taking tends to decrease. Given the stressful nature of politics, this implies that when men and women work together, they could make smarter decisions than either gender seems to do alone in political leadership.
Some argue that women and men are equally corrupt or could be if offered same opportunities. In fact, researchers warn that their research results do not necessarily mean that women are inherently less corrupt. But even if we consider men and women in politics are equally corrupt, there seems to be different levels of intensity in corruption. According to the World Bank’s research in Tajikistan, when women engage in corruption, they are significantly less demanding about the amount they extract. In Mongolia’s SME case, the loan amounts by women parliamentarians are almost 90 percent lower than the amounts taken by their male counterparts.
If we look at the following graph of male and female politicians who took loans from the Mongolian SME fund and the size of the loan they took, we can see gender-based differences. There are 22 politicians who are involved, from which four (18.1 percent) are women. On average, the sum of loans women took is less than six times than the sum taken by men.
This analysis suggests that even in the case where men and women politicians are equally corrupt, women are less likely to take large amounts. In Mongolia, only 17 percent of the current parliament’s seats are taken by women, which places the country below the world average of 21.9 percent. The fact that women take smaller bribes and are fewer in public office therefore implies that the impact of women’s corruption could be lower than men’s.
Given the existing evidence and Mongolia’s SME case analysis, we are further convinced that due to women’s policy preferences, risk-averse tendency, and lower intensity in corruption, gender equality in governance will reduce corruption effectively. Additionally, the higher presence of women in politics could further strengthen the quality of democracy, which in turn reduces corruption as well. The SME case triggers an important call-to-action for Mongolians to demand stricter anti-corruption policies and accountability measures from the government. We are hopeful that Mongolia will see gender equality in governance as the nation continues to shape the growth of its democracy. This is relevant to other developing democracies as well, therefore we call researchers and students to analyze corruption cases from a gender perspective in different contexts.
Otgontugs Banzragch is a Professor at National University of Mongolia in Economics Department. She is currently spearheading the initiative to teach Gender Economics course for the first time in Mongolia. She has been actively fighting political corruption in Mongolia, especially the recent Small-Medium-Enterprise fund corruption case. Follow her at @ob2133.
Rentsenkhand “Handaa” Enkh-Amgalan is a master’s candidate in Public Administration at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, specializing in International Development. While in graduate school, she worked at the World Bank’s Africa Gender Innovation Lab, supporting randomized controlled trials to identify what works best in addressing gender gaps. Follow her at @Handaa_Rea.
LSMS Team Members, Talip Kilic (PhD ’08, American University), Harriet Mugera, John Ilukor and Wilbert Vundru Drazi II, are currently in Mbarara, Isingiro, Masaka and Bukomansimbi districts of Uganda, working alongside the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) management (Director Patrick Okello) and field teams; the Precision Agriculture Research Group of the University of New England (Andrew James Robson & Derek Schneider); and the World Agroforestry Center in support of the Methodological Experiment on Banana Variety Identification and Soil Fertility Measurement (BaVIS) field operations.
BaVIS is attempting to test the accuracy of (i) farmer-reported information on banana variety names and attributes compared to DNA fingerprinting of banana leaf samples; (ii) sub-meter spatial resolution satellite imagery based remote sensing of banana varieties compared to DNA fingerprinting and high-accuracy spectroscopy measures of banana leaf samples; and (iii) low-cost, handheld sensors for field-based soil fertility measurement compared to wet chemistry informed lab-based infrared spectroscopy.
The methods that are being tested are specific to a 10x10m sub-plot that is placed randomly in one randomly selected banana plot of each of approximately 600 households interviewed with the World Bank Survey Solutions CAPI software across the four districts of interest.
Credit to the World Bank’s Living Standards Measurement Study Facebook page for this great post and pictures. Visit their page to stay up to date on their work!
Boris Gershman has been on the faculty of American University since 2012. Born and raised in Moscow, he came to the United States in 2007 and earned his PhD degree in Economics from Brown University in 2012. His primary research focuses on the deep determinants of long-term economic growth and development and the economics of culture. He is also active in the field of agent-based computational macroeconomics. Professor Gershman’s recent work has been published in the Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Economic Growth, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, and Macroeconomic Dynamics.
He has also recently been featured in Bild and Seeker:
Evan Kraft specializes in the economics of transition, monetary policy and banking issues. He served as Director of the Research Department and Adviser to the Governor of the Croatian National Bank. His scholarly work includes studies of soft-budget constraints and their impacts in former Yugoslavia, macroeconomic stabilization in transition countries, banking efficiency, lending booms, deposit growth and financial stability, and monetary policy under dollarization.
Professor Kraft regularly posts contributions on The Hill. Catch up on his most recent and earlier blogs below.
Professor Jon Wisman notes that “critics from outside the discipline, and from inside (generally heterodox economists such as institutionalists, Marxists, and most recently behavioral economists) have insisted that the mainstream conception of human behavior is not only scientifically inadequate, but socially perverse” in response to the new book by Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro: Cents and Sensibility.
“In its early years as a developing social science, economics (called political economy at the time) embraced Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarianism to define its theoretical understanding of human behavior. For Thomas Carlyle, this meant that at its core, economics was ‘pig philosophy.’ Social critic John Ruskin was of the same mind, and directly called economics ‘pig philosophy.’ Undeterred, mainstream economics continued to refine, or perhaps better said, reduce, its conception of human behavior to the fundamental position of utilitarianism until today it could be expressed as ‘humans are calculatingly rational self-interested actors.’ Although it’s no longer emphasized, presumably they do so to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, just as Bentham claimed.
However, ever since Carlyle and Ruskin, critics from outside the discipline, and from inside (generally heterodox economists such as institutionalists, Marxists, and most recently behavioral economists) have insisted that the mainstream conception of human behavior is not only scientifically inadequate, but socially perverse insofar as it instructs folks as to how they should behave (studies have found students of economics less generous than students generally). And now, hot off the press is another broadside against our discipline’s understanding of human behavior. It’s Cents and Sensibility by Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro (Princeton University Press/Princeton University Press). Morson teaches language and literature and Schapiro is an economist. Their book probably won’t change the minds of many mainstream economists any more than did the countless earlier works attempting the same thing, but it’ll provide lots of fresh fuel for their critics.”
PhD students Chang He and Stephan Lefebvre have been working in the Learning Evaluation and Accountability Department (LEAD) of Oxfam America on the project “Old Data, New Ideas for Gender Justice.” The project saw He and Lefebvre reanalyze data from completed agricultural development initiatives in order to add a substantive gender component to the analysis. He completed an analysis of the R4 Rural Resilience Initiative in Senegal, a partnership between Oxfam American and the UN World Food Project, while Lefebvre produced a report on the results from a randomized control trial in Haiti on the System for Rice Intensification (SRI). They presented their work at the American Evaluation Association conference in Washington, D.C. on November 6-11, 2017.
The Emerging Evaluators Fellowship Program allowed He and Lefebvre to gain valuable experience working with practitioners and policy experts at Oxfam while contributing statistical analysis and writing policy briefs. Lefebvre noted: “This was a great fit for Chang and me, especially in light of our coursework in PGAE (Program on Gender Analysis in Economics). The team at Oxfam doesn’t shy away from the technical issues – we had many debates about different econometric approaches and robustness tests – and they also integrate feminist analysis into all of their evaluation and accountability work.”
Professor Ignacio Gonzalez Garcia is our newest faculty member, joining American University’s Department of Economics this Fall after completing a Ph.d at the European University Institute and a post-doc at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
With two colleagues from the Bank of England, Professor Gonzalez co-organized the Workshop on Growth, Stagnation and Inequality, promoting dialogue about key macroeconomic trends.
His conference paper with Lidia Brun (Universite libre de Bruxelles) finds that changes in the structure of capital taxation and the increase in monopoly rents have increased Tobin’s Q, reduced investment and worsened inequality. Read the paper here: https://t.co/JwXzA1Ukk0