What is She Worth? How to Value (Or Not to Value) a Woman’s Life

26 October 2008

The 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund dispensed death benefits for female victims that averaged only 63% of those for male victims. Why? Special Master Kenneth Feinberg was instructed to use a formula similar to that used in U.S. courts, taking victims’ estimated future earnings into account. For more details, see his fascinating book, What is Life Worth? (Public Affairs, 1995).

The Motherhood Penalty

7 October 2008

Most women know that having a child is costly and leaves them vulnerable to poverty. But most probably don’t know how these costs and risks actually measure up, especially considering important differences across women and their families. Even as you read this, highly-skilled researchers are figuring out how to “do the numbers.”

Is it Work?

9 June 2008

Steven J. Dubner and Steve Levitt suggest the following: “It’s work if someone else tells you to do it, and leisure if you choose to do it yourself.” This definition makes it sound like neither self-employed nor self-motivated individuals do any work.

Children as Pets

6 June 2008

This recent New Yorker cover satirizes the notion that children, like puppies in a store window, are just another consumer good. I think the gender stereotyping is intended as a joke, though not all viewers would take it that way.

Servant Sisters

4 June 2008

A guest post by Hande Togrul (handetogrul@yahoo.com), graduate student at the University of Utah.

Child Care Time

11 May 2008

Guest blogger Charlene Kalenkoski of the Ohio University Economics Department is doing research that addresses these questions: When I took this picture of my friend Gaela (who is a girl, not a cat), was I engaging in photography, child care, or both? What if I stayed at Gaela’s house while her parents stepped out to a party on a Saturday night, spending most of my time curled up on the couch writing a blog entry after she had gone to bed? Would I be providing child care?

Measuring Progress

21 April 2008

I’m in Paris for a meeting of a new Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. It’s a city that invites reflections on the past that can make the future shimmer. Walking down the Rue des Francs Bourgeois in the Marais I recall an essay contest sponsored by a group of learned French scholars in 1759. They asked, “Has intellectual and economic progress contributed to the moral improvement of humanity?” The winner, Jean-Jacques Rousseau (smiling enigmatically on the left), elaborated famously on his basic answer: non!

Cat Care

14 April 2008

Guest blogger Man Yee Kan, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford, pictured here with her cat Sammie, writes:

When a Commodity is Not Exactly a Commodity

4 April 2008

Every week, the journal Science complements its published articles with one or more “Perspectives” offering a brief and informal summary of research on an important topic. I was thrilled to be invited to submit one of these recently, and chose to focus on the impact of personal interactions and emotional connections on the economics of care services.

Justin Care

3 April 2008

Most debates over family policy in the U.S. focus on comparisons with Europe, Canada, or Australia. But so much is happening in East Asia! The rapidity of fertility decline in Korea –combined with the mobilization of women’s groups there–has led to major new government initiatives.

Lands of Possibility

18 March 2008

The social democracies of Northwestern Europe offer many varieties of inspiration for the United States.

Buying Care

27 February 2008

At a Women’s World conference in Korea two years ago some community artists laid out a large piece of canvas on smooth ground, along with pencils, markers, and paints for passersby to express themselves. The resulting piece of collective art was tapestry-like, with a layered intricacy exceeding that of most renegade graffiti.