Rigissa Megalokonomou, Marian Vidal-Fernandez, Duygu Yengin, 11 November 2021

Women are now more likely to pursue a university degree than men, but the proportion of women graduating in economics has decreased or remained stagnant over the past two decades. This column examines the representation of women in undergraduate economics degrees in 25 European countries during 2014–2018. The ratio of women to men in economics, controlling for gender differences in enrolment, has been around 0.6 on average and is stable or decreasing. Increased representation of women economists is important for more balanced policy recommendations, and the authors discuss how this might be achieved. 

Francesca Caselli, 11 May 2021

Francesca Caselli of the IMF talks to Tim Phillips about evidence for the extent and persistence of pandemic-induced she-cessions, drawing on quarterly data from 38 advanced and emerging market economies, which uncovers significant heterogeneity across countries. In two-thirds of the countries studied, women’s employment rates declined more than men’s, but the differences were short-lived – lasting only a quarter or two on average – and strongly correlated to specific sectors of the economy.

Alma Cohen, Moshe Hazan, David Weiss, 08 March 2021

The gender gap in corporate America is increasingly well documented, but the literature has not yet examined how a CEO’s political preferences might be associated with gender equality in the executive suite. Focusing on the US, this column compares the fraction of a CEO’s political contributions that went to Republican, rather than Democratic, candidates and the gender balance among top executives (excluding the CEO). Companies run by a CEO who only donates to Democrats employ a 15–25% higher fraction of women in the executive suite than those run by CEOs who only donate to Republicans.

Vincenzo Galasso, Vincent Pons, Paola Profeta, 07 November 2020

The efficacy of government lockdown measures to contain COVID-19 hinges on people’s willingness to comply. It is critical to identify and convince those who are the least compliant. This column surveyed over 21,000 respondents in eight OECD countries, in March and April 2020, on beliefs about COVID-19 and containment measures and their level of compliance with the measures. Men and women differ strikingly in both beliefs and behaviours, with women are more likely to take the pandemic seriously and more compliant than men. The findings suggest that public health communication should target men and women differently.

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.

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