27 October 2009

Gender and Macroeconomics: Necessary Bedfellows

About 9 months ago there was a joke going around about how the global financial crisis would never have happened if it were Lehman Sisters instead of Lehman Brothers. A difficult hypothesis to test!

But a UN recent publication lead-authored by my IDS colleague, Naila Kabeer (World Survey on the Role of Women in Development, 2009) does not shy away from how macroeconomics and public finance need to-- and can be--more gender-sensitive.

Much progress has been made in the microeconomics of gender in the past decade (although not enough-see this paper by me, recently published in the latest Copenhagen Consensus book from Bjorn Lomborg).

Within economics, macroeconomics has been the most resistant of all outposts to gender sensitive analysis and policy formulation. In addition to a good review of the micro evidence, Kabeer and her authors draw our attention to new ways of thinking about macro models, taxation, budgeting, fiscal stimuli and the like.

It is no surprise that in times of crisis, gender issues come to the fore. Women, whether they want to or not, tend to take on or be assigned a shock absorber role during crises. This is one of the reasons why we saw an upsurge in interest in the microeconomics of women in development during structural adjustment in the 80s. Now I hope we see more at the macroeconomics and public finance levels--both during and after this global financial crisis.

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