Decomposition by such an important category as gender helps us understand the economy at the macro level, and design macroeconomic policy, better. It also provides the foundation for advocating equal gender rights and outcomes. But, where gendered policy issues arise in mainstream macroeconomics (income maldistribution, labour market composition, etc.) the subject matter is narrowed by its microfoundations, by focusing on GDP growth and on suboptimal outcomes being explained by market imperfections.
Growing income inequality is threatening the American middle class, and the middle class is vanishing before our eyes. We are still one country, but the stretch of incomes is fraying the unity of our nation.
The Precariat under Rentier Capitalism
We are in the midst of a Global Transformation, analogous to Karl Polanyi’s Great Transformation described in his seminal 1944 book. Whereas Polanyi’s Transformation was about constructing national market systems, today’s is about the painful construction of a global market system. To use Polanyi’s term, the ‘dis-embedded’ phase has been dominated by an ideology of market liberalisation, commodification and privatisation, orchestrated by financial interests, as in his model. The similarities also extend to today’s fundamental challenge, how to construct a ‘re-embedded’ phase, with new systems of regulation, distribution and social protection.
In the economic literature, several scholars have addressed the narrative of a two-stage European crisis. In a first stage, the so-called “he-cession”, men would have been hit the most by the economic recession induced by the financial crisis. Shortly thereafter, in the “she-austerity” stage, women would have suffered the heaviest burdens of the fiscal retrenchment measures. If that were the case, the policy response to the crisis would be producing an increase in the – already high pre-existing – gender inequality.
Especially in the wake of the Great Recession, calls for more diversity within economics are usually limited to appealing for greater diversity in the economists’ backgrounds, while diversity of opinion and approaches is often neglected.