Paola Profeta, 22 July 2020

With recent research that may suggest that countries with female leaders are faring generally better in the struggle against Covid-19, Paola Profeta (Bocconi University) is not surprised. Her recent book 'Gender Equality and Public Policy' reveals how the presence of women in the economy and decision-making positions is itself shaping public policy, as she discusses with Tim Phillips.

Ina Ganguli, Ricardo Hausmann, Martina Viarengo, 09 July 2020

Though women have achieved near parity with men among new hires at large law firms, they still hold notably few positions of leadership in the profession broadly. This column reviews international evidence of career trajectories in the legal sector using employment records from one of the largest multinational law firms. In addition to providing new facts about career dynamics for a sizable share of the global legal workforce, the column details differences in institutions and national cultures that contribute to disparities in gender mobility.

Daniela Del Boca, Noemi Oggero, Paola Profeta, Mariacristina Rossi, 19 June 2020

The social distancing measures adopted to slow the spread of COVID-19 have placed a particular burden on families. Using survey data collected in April 2020 from a representative sample of Italian women, this column asks how working from home – combined with school closures – has affected the working arrangements, housework, and childcare provisions of couples in which both partners are employed. Most of the additional responsibilities have fallen to women, though childcare activities are shared more equally than housework.

Morten Bennedsen, Elena Simintzi, Margarita Tsoutsoura, Daniel Wolfenzon, 07 May 2020

Many countries are introducing mandatory wage transparency to address the seemingly intractable gender wage gap, but evidence of its effects on gender pay disparities and firm outcomes has, to date, been limited. To examine the benefits and costs of such policies, this column analyses the wages of firms prior to and following the introduction of Denmark’s 2006 Act on Gender Specific Pay Statistics. Mandatory transparency legislation reduced gender pay disparity, primarily by slowing down the growth of men's wages.

Nir Jaimovich, 21 February 2020

The likelihood of college-educated women finding high-paid employment has risen, while for men it has fallen. Is a growing demand for social skills behind this?

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.

Emmanuelle Auriol, Guido Friebel, Sascha Wilhelm, 19 November 2019

Despite around a third of PhDs in economics in the US having been earned by women over the last few decades, under 15% of full professors in the US were women in 2017. This column uses data scraped from research institute websites to investigate whether a similar ‘leaky pipeline’ exists in Europe. It finds that in comparison to the US, European countries have a higher share of women full professors in their research institutions, but the attrition rate between junior and senior ranks is comparable on both sides of the Atlantic. There are important differences throughout Europe, however, with the Nordic countries and France scoring much higher on gender equality than, for instance, Germany and the Netherlands.

Marianne Bertrand, 29 April 2019

Marianne Bertrand discusses how the pipeline of women entering economics could be improved by better describing the profession.

Moshe Hazan, David Weiss, Hosny Zoabi, 23 March 2019

Countries such as England, the US, Canada, and Australia granted property rights to married women in the 19th century. The column uses US census and economic data from the time to show that the impact was financial as well as social. Women kept more of their assets as cash in US states that granted these rights. This reduced interest rates and accelerated industrialisation in these regions.

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.

Damian Clarke, Hanna Mühlrad, 12 November 2018

Women’s health is frequently cited when debating the merits of abortion legislation. However, the arguments are often based on evidence which is correlational or drawn from small or non-representative samples of women. This column explores the impacts of abortion legislation on women’s health using the universe of health records from Mexico, where abortion was legalised in the Federal District of Mexico while sanctions on abortion were increased in other regions of the country. It documents immediate reductions in rates of hospitalisation of women with the legalisation of abortion.

Raquel Fernández, 25 April 2018

Attitudes towards women working have changed drastically in the last century. Raquel Fernández discusses her research on how a woman's decision to work is heavily influenced by culture, assessed by the beliefs passed down to children from parents.

Adriana Kugler, Catherine Tinsley, Olga Ukhaneva, 02 November 2017

Despite various initiatives, a lack of female representation in fields of science, technology, engineering, and maths persists. This column studies how men and women are affected by various factors when switching out of STEM majors, including their own ability in a subject as well as gender representation within their cohort. Women are just as resilient to negative feedback as men when deciding whether to continue in a field of study, but when faced with additional signals such as an association of the field with masculinity, they appear to become more prone to opt out in response to low grades.

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.

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