Thushyanthan Baskaran, Zohal Hessami, 18 February 2020

The fact that women are underrepresented in politics is often viewed as an important social problem. But why should it be a problem? This column argues that when too few women hold political office, political decisions may not adequately reflect women’s needs and preferences. Using the example of the public provision of childcare in Germany, it shows that municipalities with a higher share of female councillors expand public childcare more quickly. The fact that the presence of women has substantive effects on policies should be taken into account in current debates around the introduction of gender quotas in politics.

Anne Boschini, Jesper Roine, 29 January 2020

While the rising income share of top earners has received enormous attention in recent years, the share of women at the top has not been examined as closely. This column analyses income tax data from Sweden, where taxes are filed individually regardless of marital status. It finds that while the share of women among the wealthiest groups has steadily increased over time, women remain a clear minority, especially at the very top. Unlike top-income men, top-income women are much more likely to have partners who are also in the top of the income distribution.

Christine Exley, Judd Kessler, 23 December 2019

Women earn less than men at every level of employment, an inequality that has persisted for decades. This column examines one potential factor, namely, a sizeable gender gap in self-promotion. It considers four possible causes for this gap – performance, confidence, strategic incentives, and ambiguity – and while none can explain the gap alone, they do shed light on some of the labour market perceptions women may internalise over time, and to which employers should be sensitive in hiring practices.

Vladimir Otrachshenko, Olga Popova, José Tavares, 22 December 2019

There is evidence that hot climatic temperatures and crime are linked. With climate change raising temperatures around the world, it is possible we may see higher levels of personal aggression. Based on data from Russia, this column shows that on hotter days, women are more likely to be killed in homicides, especially over weekends. Colder days have no similar effect on violence. Lower wages and higher unemployment contribute to higher homicide rates, so policies promoting employment may mitigate victimisation during extreme temperature days.

Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang, 23 November 2019

In the US, both taxes and social security benefits depend on one’s marital status and tend to discourage the labour supply of the secondary earner. Using information on US cohorts born in 1945 and 1955, this column shows that eliminating marriage-related provisions drastically increases the participation of married women over their entire life cycle and reduces the participation of married men after age 60. If the resulting government surplus were used to lower income taxation, there would be large welfare gains for the vast majority of the population.

Angela Cools, Raquel Fernández, Eleonora Patacchini, 30 August 2019

The effect of class gender composition and the effect of peer ability on outcomes are usually examined separately. This column asks whether there are long-term consequences to attending a high school with a larger or smaller number of female or male high achievers. Using data on students in grades 7-12 from a nationally representative sample of roughly 130 private and public schools, it shows that high-achieving boys have a negative and persistent effect on girls’ longer-run education outcomes, but no significant effect on boys’ outcomes. 

Diether W. Beuermann, Kirabo Jackson, 06 July 2019

Most parents have strong views regarding which schools to send their children to. However, evidence shows that attending sought-after public secondary schools does not improve secondary-school examination performance. This column uses data from Barbados to show that secondary school choice does not appear to lead to improvements in exam performance. However, it does have a sizable effect on short-run non-cognitive outcomes that may affect longer-run outcomes.

Raquel Fernández, Sahar Parsa, 20 June 2019

Over the last few decades, there has been a large change in public opinion towards same-sex relationships.It has been argued that to drive such a change in public attitudes, a ‘shock’ of some kind is needed. This column examines the change in attitudes in the US towards same-sex relationships in relation to the AIDS epidemic. It shows that the change is indeed greater in those states most exposed to the AIDS epidemic, although only women reacted significantly to the AIDS rate in the 1990s.

Sascha O. Becker, Ana Fernandes, Doris Weichselbaumer, 05 June 2019

The arrival of a child affects women and men differently in terms of labour market outcomes, but it is difficult to separate out the causal impact of discrimination from other factors. This column uses empirical evidence from Germany, Switzerland, and Austria to show that women are most affected in part-time job applications if they signal a ‘risk’ of having young children soon.

Alison Booth, Jungmin Lee, 11 May 2019

The gender pay gap in South Korea is the highest in the OECD and South Korean women are under-represented in public life. This column uses data from a long-running TV quiz show to examine whether these gender gaps may be due to differences in male and female attitudes to competition.The results suggest that South Korean girls are increasingly hindered by psychological stress and risk aversion as the pressure from competition increases, and also tend to be less confident in their knowledge than boys. The findings stand in contrast to those from similar studies in the US, possibly due to differences in cultural values.

David Yanagizawa-Drott, 07 May 2019

By custom, women in Saudi Arabia need the consent of either their husband or father to get a job. David Yanagizawa-Drott discusses research suggesting that that most Saudi men privately believe that women should be allowed to work, but they underestimate the extent to which other men share their views.

Judith Delaney, Paul Devereux, 19 April 2019

Women are much less likely to study STEM degrees at university. This column reveals that in the case of Ireland, the gender gap is concentrated in the areas of engineering, technology, and mathematics. Subject choice in secondary school is the most important predictor of the portion of the gap that can be explained, with a small role for grades achieved in mathematics versus English. A gender gap of 9% remains even among students who studied the same subjects and achieved the same grades at secondary school.

Agata Maida, Andrea Weber, 15 March 2019

Mandated gender quotas in Italy have been successful at increasing the number of women on boards. But the relevant law is temporary and affects only a small number of firms. The column uses evidence on employment and earnings to show no increase in female representation at the top executive level or among top earners. This may be because norms and perceptions take time to change, or because newly appointed women in senior roles wield limited power.

Jörg Baten, Alexandra de Pleijt, 11 February 2019

Empirical evidence suggests a positive relationship between gender equality and long-term economic growth, but establishing the direction of causality has been hampered by a lack of consistent data. This column uses historical evidence on dairy farming to examine the growth effects of gender equality. Countries with greater female autonomy allowed women to contribute more to human capital formation and prosperity, leading to greater economic development in the long run.

Bastien Chabé-Ferret, Paula Gobbi, 26 January 2019

Between the early 1940s and the late 1960s, the secular decline in fertility that started at the turn of the 19th century in most developed countries was interrupted by a massive baby-boom. This column argues that although much attention has focused on this boom, fertility rates preceding it were abnormally low. The evidence suggests that economic uncertainty can explain a substantial part of the major swings in fertility over the 20th century.

Smriti Sharma, 20 December 2018

Smriti Sharma of Newcastle University and former Research Fellow at UNU-Wider discusses the last decade of research at UNU-WIDER tells us about gender. 

Shelly Lundberg, Jenna Stearns, 18 December 2018

Although the share of women in top PhD-granting departments more than doubled between 1972 and 1993, this growth has stalled in recent years. This column reviews recent literature on women’s relative position in the discipline and assesses the evidence on barriers that female economists face in publishing, promotion, and tenure. It suggests that differentialassessment of men and women is one factor in explaining women’s failure to advance in economics and that continued progress toward equality in academic economics will require a concerted effort to remove opportunities for bias in the hiring and promotion processes.

Haiyue Yu, Jin Cao, Shulong Kang, 13 December 2018

In a country where grandparents provide a significant amount of childcare, China’s plans to gradually delay retirement over the next few decades may significantly impact the labour supply and lifetime earnings of young women. Using the China Family Panel Studies survey data, this column demonstrates that the provision of grandparental childcare affects females’ income, in particular better-educated, urban females with younger children. An increase in public childcare subsidies may be required to complement the phasing-in of the retirement policy in China.

Radim Bohacek, Jesus Bueren, Laura Crespo, Pedro Mira, Josep Pijoan-Mas, 06 December 2018

Comparing cross-country similarities and differences can be useful to understand the origins of health inequality, but is hampered by a lack of harmonised and comparable data. This column brings together panel data from ten countries in continental Europe, England, and the US to compare inequalities in total life expectancy, disability-free life expectancy, and years spent in disability across education levels and gender. Among the findings are that ‘women get sicker but men die quicker’ is to a large extent a low-education phenomenon.

Alexander Bick, Bettina Brüggemann, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Hannah Paule-Paludkiewicz, 15 November 2018

The extent to which tax policies influence the amount of labour that private households supply has been at the centre of many public policy debates. Within married couples, joint versus separate taxation may be one factor that contributes to differences in household labour supply. This column uses a model that closely reproduces the changes in married women’s labour supply in the US and Europe between the early 1980s and 2016 to show that taxes are indeed a major factor shaping the labour supply of married women.

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