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.
Janet Currie, 15 January 2016
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.
Siwan Anderson, Debraj Ray, 10 October 2015
The developing world has notoriously low female-to-male sex ratios, a phenomenon that has been described as ‘missing women’. It is argued that this is driven by parental preferences for sons, sex-selective abortion, and different levels of care during infancy. This column shows that these higher rates of female mortality continue into adulthood. It argues that being unmarried, especially through widowhood, can have substantial effects on relative rates of female mortality in the developing world.
David Bloom, Michael Kuhn, Klaus Prettner, 09 October 2015
There has been lots of discussion about economic growth in developing countries, improved health, and the link between health and growth. But does it matter whether it is men’s or women’s health that is improved? This column argues that it does – targeting health investments on women rather than on men is a strong lever for development policy.
Daniel Houser, John List, Marco Piovesan, Anya Samek, Joachim Winter, 23 February 2015
Dishonesty is a pervasive and costly phenomenon. This column reports the results of a lab experiment in which parents had an opportunity to behave dishonestly. Parents cheated the most when the prize was for their child and their child was not present. Parents cheated little when their child was present, but were more likely to cheat in front of sons than in front of daughters. The latter finding may help to explain why women attach greater importance to moral norms and are more honest.
Gerd Muehlheusser, Andreas Roider, Niklas Wallmeier, 16 February 2015
Many nations and corporations strive to raise female membership in decision-making bodies. This column discusses new experimental evidence suggesting that there is more lying (and more extreme lying) in male groups and mixed-gender groups than in female groups. Moreover, group decision-making exacerbates men’s tendency to lie while the opposite is true for women. This suggests that the gender composition of decision-making bodies is important when the goal is to limit the scope of unethical behaviour.
Vincenzo Galasso, Tommaso Nannicini, 22 September 2013
The perceived tone of a product or political advertisement affects public response – even holding constant the content of the message. This column provides evidence that men and women react differently to positive and negative tones in electoral advertisements. Negative advertising increases voter turnout among men but not women; positive advertising tends to win women’s sympathy but alienates men. This should inform gender-specific tailoring of targeted advertisements.
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.
Ejaz Ghani, William Kerr, Stephen D. O'Connell, 22 February 2013
Although its economic development has been impressive, recent events have sparked debate about India’s gender inequality. This column argues that Indian women’s levels of entrepreneurship and participation in the labour force are some of the lowest in the world. India’s economic growth and shared prosperity depends upon successfully utilising both its male and female workforce, and improving this balance is an important step towards sharing the benefits of India’s growth. Economically and socially, gender equality should be a no-brainer for policymakers.
Andrew Healy, 09 December 2011
At this week’s summit on the future of the euro, Angela Merkel will be one of few women in a room full of men. This column provides experimental evidence to suggest that women are often less driven by the desire to compete and have less belief in their abilities than men. The result is that even the highest ranks of power may be bereft of the most able of candidates.
Natalia Zinovyeva, Manuel F. Bagues, 19 December 2010
Several countries have recently introduced gender quotas in hiring and promotion committees at universities. Evidence from promotions in the Spanish university system suggests that quotas are only effective at increasing the number of successful female applicants in promotions to top positions. This column argues that, given that sitting on committees reduces the available time for research, gender quotas should be implemented only for more senior academic positions.
Jennifer Hunt, 22 May 2010
American women leave science and engineering at a higher frequency than men. This column suggests that the gender gap is explained by women’s relative dissatisfaction with pay and promotion opportunities. This gap is correlated with a high share of men in the industry. Remedies should therefore focus on such fields with a high share of male workers.
Thorsten Beck, 14 May 2010
Thorsten Beck of Tilburg University talks to Viv Davies about his current research in the areas of finance, growth and development - and the policy lessons for developing countries. The interview was recorded at Tilburg University in April 2010.
Graziella Bertocchi, Costanza Torricelli, Marianna Brunetti, 13 March 2010
Does marriage make people less averse to risk? This column argues that this is the case for women, but not for men. But married women's different attitude towards risk has fallen over time as the prevalence of marriage in society has faded. For women who work, marriage makes no difference.
Alison Booth, Andrew Leigh, 02 February 2010
Does gender-stereotyping in the workplace cut both ways? This column presents evidence from Australia suggesting that employers in occupations with more women discriminate against male applicants, perhaps preferring to conform to perceived social norms. As with discrimination against women, this raises concerns for both equity and efficiency.
Ronald G. Ehrenberg, 25 January 2010
Will having more women on the board of trustees at academic institutions increase the number of women in the faculty? This column presents evidence suggesting that if a board is one-quarter women, it reaches the critical mass needed to hasten gender diversity.
Alexander Gelber, Joshua Mitchell, 11 January 2010
When single women enter the labour force, how do their lifestyles change? This column shows that work in the market substitutes for work at home. For every additional hour that a single woman spends working in the market in response to a change in tax policy, she spends about 40 fewer minutes working at home.
Alison Booth, 14 September 2009
Women are underrepresented in high-paying jobs and upper management. Is that due to gender differences in risk aversion and facing competition? This column describes an experiment in which girls were found to be as competitive and risk-taking as boys when surrounded by only girls. This suggests cultural pressure to act as a girl could explain gender differences that are not innate.
Thorsten Beck, Patrick Behr, Andre Güttler, 28 August 2009
Does gender matter in banking? This column presents evidence from an Albanian bank that it does. Female loan officers build better portfolios, such that loans to borrowers working with a female are significantly less likely to incur arrears.
John List, 30 April 2009
John List of the University of Chicago talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about the use of field experiments in economics, including his research on people’s motivation for charitable giving, gender differences in competitiveness, and discrimination in the labour market. The interview was recorded at the American Economic Association meetings in San Francisco in January 2009.