In the past 50 years, the roles of women and men in the U.S. economy have changed in important ways in both the labor market and the household. We’ll start with economic models of gender, household work and market work – in other words, “work and family”, or the gender division of labor. Why do women usually do most of the work in the home and men do more of the work in the labor market? Starting from this background on work and family, the course will explore feminist and neoclassical theories to explain trends in childbearing, household labor, labor force participation, the pay gap, occupational segregation, and poverty. It will also examine in some detail one policy that affects women far more than men, welfare (formally known as “Temporary Aid to Needy Families”). We will also examine these trends and issues in other countries from time to time.
By the end of this course, you should understand the basic economic theories of the gender division of labor in the home and at the workplace, and theories of gender differences in compensation and workforce segregation. You should know the basic empirical facts of women in the U.S. labor force, and some comparison information from other economies. You should be able to express the theoretical and empirical content of this course effectively, and you should be able to use it to make arguments regarding the policy issues we will discuss. Finally, you should have some insight into the economic forces that will shape your life as a man, woman or transgender person, and some insight into the gendered choices you will have to make about your economic role.
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