Gendering Economics: From Research to Policy Practice

Hosted by the Department of Gender Studies

TW1.G01 Tower One


Susan Himmelweit

Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Open University

Özlem Onaran

Professor of Economics at the University of Greenwich


Ania Plomien

Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender Studies

In this event Ӧzlem Onaran and Susan Himmelweit discuss their research in gender and economics and its relevance to policy. One presents a macroeconomic model considering the role of labour market and fiscal policies for growth and employment that is gender equitable, the other draws on the theoretical and empirical evidence used to develop policy proposals and engage with policy-makers.

Gendering macroeconomic analysis and policy: The role of labour market and fiscal policies for gender equitable development 

I will present a paper which develops a feminist post-Keynesian/post-Kaleckian demand-led growth model to analyse the role of labour market policies and fiscal policies on growth and employment. It considers a three-sector gendered macroeconomic model with physical and social sectors (health, social care, education, child care) in the public and private market economy, and an unpaid reproductive sector providing domestic care. The model aims to provide a basis to analyse the impact of gender equality and public spending. We provide an analysis of the effects on GDP, productivity (GDP per employee) and employment of men and women in both the short run and long run as a consequence of i) an equivalent change in female and male wage rates; ii) particular paths to closing gender wage gaps, including via an upward convergence in wages, i.e. an increase in both male and female wages with a faster increase in the latter; and iii) the impact of fiscal policies, in particular public spending in social vs. physical infrastructure and taxes on labour and capital income. Crucially, a change in gender pay gap or the functional distribution of income between wages and profits or public spending in social vs. physical infrastructure have both demand side effects in short- and long-run and supply side effects in the long run and affect output, productivity and the employment and income of men and women. 


Gendering economic and social policy in the UK: doing feminist economics in Westminster?

I will talk about how theory and empirical evidence that focuses on gender differences and issues, such as that presented by Ozlem, has been used to develop policy proposals and try to influence policy makers. I will focus on the work of the UK Women’s Budget group, a think tank that analyses and comments on the gender implications of government economic and social policy, particularly on budgets, such as the one that will have been presented in parliament just before this seminar. Besides making some comments about that budget, I will also talk about how feminist economists’ theories of care have been used in the UK to try to influence policy on child and elder care. The WBG has argued strongly that expenditure on both types of care should be seen, at least in part, as investment in social infrastructure, therefore relevant to industrial as much as welfare policy. I will demonstrate how the changing political climate has influenced the ways in feminist ideas about care are being presented and speculate about their potential success.


Susan Himmelweit is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the Open University and Visiting Professor at the LSE Gender Institute. She is a feminist economist who research focuses on intra-household inequalities, the economics and policy of caring and the gender implications of economic and social policy. She is the coordinator of the policy advisory group of the Women’s Budget Group, the UK’s gender budgeting think tank, and was its founding chair. She is a member of many advisory bodies including the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s Expert Group on “Making Fair Financial Decisions” and of UCL’s Commission on Mission-Oriented Innovation and Industrial Strategy. In 2009, she was the President of the International Association for Feminist Economics and is on the Editorial Board of its journal Feminist Economics. She has published widely in academic journals and policy outlets and her latest book is Economics and Austerity in Europe: Gendered impacts and Sustainable Alternatives, co-edited with Hannah Bargawi and Giovanni Cozzi.

Özlem Onaran is Professor of Economics at the University of Greenwich. She is the director of the Greenwich Political Economy Research Centre and Co-Director of the Institute of Political Economy, Governance, Finance and Accountability. She has done extensive research on issues of inequality, wage-led growth, employment, globalization, gender, and crises. She has directed research projects for Rebuilding Macroeconomics/ESRCthe International Labour Organisation, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the Foundation of European Progressive Studies, the Vienna Chamber of Labour, the Austrian Science Foundation, and Unions21. She is member of the Scientific Committee of the Foundation of European Progressive Studies, Scientific Advisory Board of Hans Boeckler Foundation, and the Policy Advisory Group of the Women's Budget Group. She has more than seventy articles in books and peer reviewed journals such as Cambridge Journal of Economics, World Development, Environment and Planning A, Public Choice, Economic Inquiry, European Journal of Industrial Relations, International Review of Applied Economics, Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Eastern European Economics, and Review of Political Economy.

Ania Plomien is Assistant Professor in the Department of Gender Studies, London School of Economics. Her research focuses on the persistence and change of inequalities in Europe at the intersection of production and social reproduction from a feminist political economy perspective. Ania is a member of the Policy Advisory Group (Women’s Budget Group), has served as National Expert in the European Network of Experts on Gender Equality advising the European Commission, and has served as editorial board member of Work, Employment and Society. Recently, she has guest edited a themed section Social Policy and Society (2018) entitled ‘UK’s membership of the EU: Brexit and the gains, losses and dilemmas for social policy’. 



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