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 

Goals:  1) Learn to apply the tools of economic analysis to the labor market and the household, 2) Develop the skills to think critically about gender issues, including policy interventions

Textbook : Blau, Ferber, Winkler. The Economics of Women, Men and Work, 7th  edition.   Cheap on

Course modules, Readings, HWs

1.   Historical perspectives

2. Family as an Economic Unit

3. Labor force and labor supply

4.   Wages and gender differences

5.  Gender differences

6.   Human capital

7.      Labor market discrimination

8.   Marriage and divorce

9.   Government policies and other countries

10. Personal project: Literature review (3-4 pages)

Research 3 recent published articles by economists on a topic of your choice. Describe their methods and findings.  Use JSTOR article database on ESC library site, choose ‘Economics’ and your keywords in advanced search.  Examples of topics:

  • Male-female wage differential
  • Intermarriage & outcomes for children
  • Labor market outcomes for gay workers
  • 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
  • Evidence of discrimination in a particular market
  • Outcomes of your choice for a demographic group


Further readings

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

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