Maria Cubel, 08 January 2017

Recent explanations for the persistence of both the gender wage gap and the under-representation of women in top jobs have focused on behavioural aspects, in particular on differences in the responses of men and women to competition. This column suggests that it may not be competition itself that affects women, but the gender of their opponent. Analysis of data from thousands of expert chess games shows that women are less likely to win compared with men of the same ability, and that this is driven by women making more errors specifically when playing against men.

Gilles Duranton, Ejaz Ghani, Arti Grover Goswami, William Kerr, 27 May 2016

Optimising the allocation of factors of production improves productivity. In India, where evidence suggests land is severely misallocated to inefficient manufacturing firms, access to financing is disproportionately tied to access to land. This column examines the link between the misallocation of land and access to capital through financial markets. A very strong positive correlation emerges between the two, consistent with the fact that land and buildings can provide strong collateral support for accessing finance from the credit market.

Janet Currie, 15 January 2016

Studies of the effects of economic fluctuations on health have come to wildly different conclusions. This may be because the effects are different for different groups. Using US data, this column looks at the health consequences of the Great Recession on mothers, a sub-population that has thus far been largely neglected in the literature. Increases in unemployment are found to have large negative health effects and to increase incidences of smoking and substance abuse among mothers. These effects appear to be concentrated on disadvantaged groups such as minorities, and point to short- and long-term consequences for their children.

Moshe Hazan, Hosny Zoabi, 11 December 2015

Economists are increasingly interested in measuring the relationship between women’s work and education and the number of children they have – in part as a response to public policies that aim to empower women. This column assesses the evidence and finds that whereas in the 1990s highly educated women had fewer children than women with a lower education in the US, it is no longer true today.

Luca Flabbi, Mario Macis, Andrea Moro, Fabiano Schivardi, 24 April 2015

Despite the convergence between men and women in many labour market indicators, women are still vastly underrepresented at the boardroom level. Using Italian data, this column presents new evidence on the impact of having a female CEO on the distribution of wages for male and female workers within firms. Female CEOs are shown to reduce the gender wage gap at the top of the wage distribution but widen it at the bottom. The authors also show that firms with female CEOs perform better, the higher the fraction of women in the firm’s workforce.

Giovanni Peri, Agnese Romiti, Mariacristina Rossi, 08 September 2013

Elderly people assisted by immigrant carers, rather than by their sons and daughters, has become a common feature of many European countries. This column presents evidence from Italy suggesting that the immigrant presence in the home-care sector has allowed women, especially those with elderly parents, to retire from their jobs later. Increasing the retirement age has to happen over the coming decades to ensure the sustainability of developed countries’ pension systems.

Massimo Anelli, Giovanni Peri, 23 February 2013

What causes fewer women than men to choose high-earning potential subjects such as engineering, economics or science at undergraduate level? This column presents new evidence from an accidental natural experiment in Italy, suggesting mixed-gender classes at the high-school level reduce the number of women pursuing these subjects. These results suggest that gender-separated classrooms are an effective way to increase women’s career opportunities and salaries.

Natalie Chen, Paola Conconi, Carlo Perroni, 10 October 2011

Victorian novelist Horatio Alger insisted that hard work and a bit of luck could whisk a boy from rags to riches. CEPR DP8605 outlines a model to measure how social mobility impacts men and women differently. The authors suggest that, paradoxically, women's historically higher social mobility may be due to labour market discrimination--and that reducing the gender wage gap may reduce social mobility overall.

Leo Abruzzese, 26 September 2010

Women’s economic empowerment has been a defining feature of the last century. Yet while women today comprise more than half of the global workforce, their wages and economic opportunities still lag behind those of men. This column takes a closer look at the economic landscape for women and how it compares across countries, using the Economist Intelligence Unit’s new Women’s Economic Opportunity Index as a guide.