Stephanie Kelly, Abigail Watt, Nancy Hardie, Jeremy Lawson, 18 February 2021

As populations age and labour productivity slows, policy agendas that support stronger diversity and inclusion measures could provide a much needed shot in the arm for the global economy. This column describes the constraints limiting women’s full participation in the workforce across a wide sample of countries, and suggests that governments looking to maximise growth prioritise paternity leave legislation, tax wedges, and employment protections. Policies targeting gender parity must focus not only on women’s labour-supply decisions but on men’s behaviour as well. 

Alison Andrew, Orazio Attanasio, Britta Augsburg, Jere Behrman, Monimalika Day, Pamela Jervis, Costas Meghir, Angus Phimister, 17 February 2021

Despite the importance of female networks, many women worldwide face substantial barriers to creating and maintaining social connections. This column examines new mothers’ social networks in rural Odisha, an eastern state in India, and finds that young mothers tend to be extremely isolated, with potentially important consequences for mental and physical wellbeing, access to services, and maternal empowerment. The networks that exist display strong negative socioeconomic status gradients, with dominant-caste and wealthier women being much more isolated than their lower-status peers.

Philip Hanspach, Virginia Sondergeld, Jess Palka, 15 February 2021

Women economists remain underrepresented in leadership positions across the academic world as well as in the private and public sectors. This column uses data from the 2020 edition of the Women in Economics Index (WiE) to document imbalances in the profession’s gender distribution, discuss what those imbalances reveal about the state of the profession broadly, and emphasise the importance of equal opportunity to the field’s future. Removing barriers in economics will not only facilitate workplace fairness but may also improve outcomes.

Alex Chernoff, Casey Warman, 02 February 2021

COVID-19 may accelerate the automation of jobs, as employers invest in technology to safeguard against pandemics. This column uses survey data from the US to show that women with medium to low levels of wages and education are at the highest risk of COVID-induced automation.

Jacob Bastian, Lance Lochner, 23 January 2021

As more and more mothers have entered the labour force over the last few decades, it is important to ask what effects this increased participation has had on children. This column discusses how evidence from the Earned Income Tax Credit shows that although working mothers spend less time with their children, this time reduction is not very investment-oriented. This is consistent with evidence showing positive long-run effects of the tax credit on children, suggesting that greater financial resources appear to dominate decreases in time with parents.

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