Economics of Gender, Work & Family

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 

Textbook : Blau, Ferber, Winkler. The Economics of Women, Men and Work, 6th  edition or higher.   6th edition ISBN: 9780136084259 .  Cheap on

Course modules, Readings, HWs

1.   Basic concepts in economics

Goal: understand concepts of  tradeoffs, incentives, opportunity costs, rational behavior, costs and benefits, absolute and comparative advantage, specialization and exchange

2. Family and unpaid work

3. Labor markets and wages

4.   The allocation of time to labor and leisure

5. Wage differentials, gender gap & earnings

6.   Human capital

7.      Labor market discrimination

8.   Marriage and divorce

9.   Recent labor market trends and policies 



Final project: Book reaction paper

Books written by economists and sociologists are availble from the recent non-fiction shelf in your public library. For example:

  • Joanne Lipman, That’s What she said.
  • Alison Wolf, The XX Factor: How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World
  • Eric KlinenbergGoing 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

  1. Summarize the book you have read.
  2. What is the author’s main message? What central question is the author trying to answer?
  3. Why is this issue important? Give examples, numbers and quotes to illustrate your point.
  4. What interesting facts have you learned from this book?
  5. What part of the issue is controversial?  Why?
  6. What is your stand on the controversial issue(s)?
  7. 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.

Final project: Literature review

Research publications by economists using JSTOR on a specific topic.

  • Male-female wage differential
  • Intermarriage & outcomes for children
  • Labor market outcomes for gays
  • Marriage laws: differences across states, and impact
  • Labor market and other outcomes for new immigrants
  • Education, impact on health or another outcome of your choice
  • Children and labor market outcomes of mothers
  • Outcomes of your choice for a demographic group

Research Links

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