Course description: During the past half century, Americans have observed dramatic increases in female labor force participation, delayed marriage, increased divorce rates, reduced fertility rates, and increased longevity. This study examines economic trends in family and labor markets, including wage differentials, gender/race inequalities, occupations and earnings, labor force participation and economic mobility. Economic theories that explain human capital choices, discrimination, marriage, fertility and family decision making are introduced. This course assumes no prior background in economics. There is no required textbook, all readings and videos are online below; homeworks are based entirely on these resources. Schedule: one HW per week to meet end of term deadline.
Optional textbook : Blau, Ferber, Winkler. The Economics of Women, Men and Work, 5-6th edition. 5th edition ISBN: 0131877828. Cheap on www.abe.com.
Course modules, Readings, HWs
1. Current trends in gender, work and family
- Social trends – Pew research, for example:
- Occupational handbook – BLS, fastest growing jobs
- also fastest declining jobs
- How much is a homemaker worth? -household production
- Lundberg, The American Family and Family Economics – article
- Homework 1
2. Choices and Incentives
- Goal: understand concepts of tradeoffs, incentives, opportunity costs, rational behavior, costs and benefits, absolute and comparative advantage
- Scarcity & Choice – video
- Grades, graphs and opportunity costs – individual PPC
- Opportunity Cost – youtube
- Absolute and Comparative Advantage- division of labor
- Gains from specialization – for individuals, families, countries
- Estimated cost of a child – slate
- Micro short videos – watch ‘opportunity cost’ and ‘comparative advantage’ sections
- Spouses should not split household tasks evenly – Atlantic
- Goldin, The quiet Revolution that Transformed Women’s Employment, Education and Family, article
- Homework 2
3. How are wages determined by the markets?
- Goals: understand concepts of markets, supply and demand, equilibrium market price, minimum wage, unions
- Watch ‘Supply and demand’ section of this course videos or videos below (they are similar)
- Market in simple terms
- Demand – youtube
- Change in Demand vs Change in Quantity Demanded – youtube
- Supply – youtube
- Market Equilibrium – youtube
- The Demand Curve
- The Supply Curve
- The Equilibrium Price
- A Deeper Look at the Demand Curve
- The Demand Curve Shifts
- A Deeper Look at the Supply Curve
- The Supply Curve Shifts
- Exploring Equilibrium
- Does the Equilibrium Model Work?
- Supply and Demand Terminology
- The Marginal Product of Labor -marginal revolution
- Those Astronomical ATHLETE SALARIES
- Sports and Wages – Encyclopedia of Economics
- Minimum wage – youtube
- Minimum Wages in America – by state
- Characteristics of Minimum Wage Workers – DOL
- Ripple Effects of Raising the Minimum Wage – DS
- Labor market and minimum wage -video, 60sec
- Price Floors: The Minimum Wage – mr
- Homework 3
4. Wage differentials, gender gap
- Goals: understand concepts of compensating differentials, gender gap, wage differentials, occupational segregation, efficiency wages
- The Tradeoff Between Fun and Wages -marginal revolution
- Compensating Differentials -marginal revolution
- Do Unions Raise Wages? -marginal revolution
- Wages and Working Conditions – Encyclopedia of Economics
- Job Safety – Encyclopedia of Economics
- Henry Ford and high wages – article
- Do Women Earn Less than Men? – learn liberty
- Gender pay gap – policy research institute
- Gender gap lie – slate 2013
- Pay gap explained – Pew research video
- No, women do not make less money than men – 2014
- Freakonomics on gender pay gap – 2016, article, podcast
- Equal pay for equal work is not so simple – Boston Globe
- Databook on women in the labor force – wages, occupations
- Homework 4
5. Unemployment, labor market discrimination
- Goals: understand concept of statistical discrimination, and types of unemployment
- Statistical discrimination – definition
- Discrimination – Encyc of Econ, how competition helps
- What Do You Have Against DISCRIMINATION? – p.guide
- Why blacks earn less than whites do – Slate, numeric example
- Racial discrimination in the US – video presents evidence
- Who wins the name game? – the Atlantic
- How do babies with black names fair? – freakonomics
- Reconciling conflicting evidence on ethnic names – fed
- The gay and transgender wage gap – center for american prog
- So much for that merit raise – wages and appearance
- Why women don’t take risks with their money – the Atlantic
- Homework 5
6. Marriage and divorce
- Concepts: benefits of marriage, economies of scale, bargaining, transaction costs
- How to Save Marriage– marriage trends in US, Atlantic 2014
- Why Aren’t More Wives Outearning Their Husbands? – Atlantic
- US population marriage statistics -PRB
- The Untied Knot: Marriage on the Skids – Joy of Econ
- Nevada Says I Do. Mississippi Says I Don’t – marriage rates, Slate
- Marriage and the Market – economists’ view
- Tim Harford, The Economics of Marriage – Slate
- Tim Harford, Divorce Is Good for Women – Slate
- Marriage premium for men – why do married men earn more?
- Lorna Wendt’s $20 million divorce– hold product’n value,Fortune
- The economics of sex – supply and demand in market for sex
- The rise of wives – Pew Research Center
- Cohabitation benefits – same as marriage?
- Older Men; Younger Women – by Stonebraker
- Labor force participation and marriage market, by Grossbard
- The national marriage project at U. of Virginia – hot issues
- www.unmarried.org – anti-marriage project
- The dating gap – why not in women’s favor? Guardian 2015
- David Friedman Law’s Order: What Economics Has to Do With Law and Why It Matters” , read Ch 13
- Homework 6
7. Human capital, unemployment
- Human Capital – Encyclopedia of Economics
- Learning All About EDUCATION
- Economic benefits of education – college board
- Podcast on the value of education – freakonomics
- Is Medical School a Worthwhile Investment? – atlantic
- Is College Worth It? – Green brothers
- Why Is Higher Education So Expensive? – supply and demand
- Econ Duel: Is Education Signaling or Skill Building?
- Human Capital and Signaling
- Earnings by gender, education, occupation – BLS
- The value of college major -key findings,explore data
- Occupational Handbook – click Occupation Groups-wage info
- Types of Unemployment- video
- Unemployment by Lawrence H. Summers
- Unemployment Rates by state – BLS
- Current unemployment rate – BLS- see right hand column
- Labor force characteristics by ethnicity – pdf
- The End of Men – The Atlantic – article
- The missing men – fewer men in labor force, Atlantic
- Homework 7
8. Class, Inequality, Poverty, Government policies.
- US income distribution – paper 2016
- Income inequality debate – council on foreign relations
- Inequality and poverty in US – numbers
- Slate series on inequality, 2010
- Geographical segregation in the US? -Slate
- Inequality: the choices we made – some laws made it worse
- Societies are hard-wired to tolerate income equality – slate
- U.S. Ranks Near Bottom on Income Inequality
- The Great Gatsby curve of inequality – Bloomberg
- Poverty info and stats from Census -official site
- Piketty: New Thoughts on capital in the 21st century – TED
- Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies -TED real effects on health, lifespan,etc
- Freeland: The rise of the new global super-rich – TED
- Economic Mobility: The American Dream Revisited -video
- Economic Mobility: The Role of College – video
- Class in America, May 2005 – NYT series of articles
- The new middle class trap– the Atlantic
- Atlantic : “The Rise of the New Global Elite” – article
- Moral Decay – out of wedlock childbearing
- Is there Income Mobility in America? – learnliberty video
- What blocks social mobility? Single parents – slate
- The richer you are the older you’ll get – life expectancy
- Who received food stamps -factsheet – Pew research
- Homework 8
9. Research project
Students taking this study at introductory level will be assessed based on discussions of the reading materials in homework assignments. Students taking this study at advanced level will write a research article on a topic of their choice related to the course content or a book reaction paper in response to a book they have read. The goal of this research assignment is to develop expertise in some narrow issue related to the economics of gender, work and family.
Book reaction paper
Books written by economists and sociologists are availble from the recent non-fiction shelf in your public library. For example:
- Alison Wolf, The XX Factor: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World
- Eric Klinenberg, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone
- Joseph E. Stiglitz , The Price of Inequality: How Today’s Divided Society Endangers Our Future
- Liza Mundy , The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family
Writing a book reaction paper
- Summarize the book you have read.
- What is the author’s main message? What central question is the author trying to answer?
- Why is this issue important? Give examples, numbers and quotes to illustrate your point.
- What interesting facts have you learned from this book?
- What part of the issue is controversial? Why?
- What is your stand on the controversial issue(s)?
- How is the issue raised in the book relevant today? What current news and events illustrate its importance? Do your own mini internet research on this topic. Use examples, numbers, and quote your sources.
Research article, or “expert article”
Narrow down your research interests to one specific question and let that quesiton be the title of your article, for example:
- The pros and cons of raising minimum wage to $15/hour.
- Changing labor market: will robots replace all workers?
- Do women earn less than men, or is it a myth?
- Is there a premium or penalty in the labor market for gay people?
- Why does income inequality hurt our society?
- Which countries have achieved gender pay equality, and how?
- Which countries have the highest gender pay inequality, and why?
- Wage statistics -BLS, by occupation, state, etc
- Pay equity -women’s policy research
- Institute for Policy Research Northwestern University
- Economic Policy Institute
- Urban institute
- Center for Economic and Policy Research
- W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
- Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
- Social Policy, working poor, education research – MDRC institute
- Monthly Labor Review: www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/mlrhome.htm
- Movie : http://www.zeitgeistmovingforward.com/
- The economic way of looking at life – Becker Nobel lecture 1992