The Water Bearers

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Feminist economists have problematized the “unitary” conceptualization of the household, probing the black box of domestic life to explore how allocations of labor and resources are contested within the family. 

In a 1997 article, BINA AGARWAL examines how state policies and social norms affect intra-household bargaining power. 

From the text:

The household, market, community and state are four principal arenas where gender is both constituted and contested. Each simultaneously impinges on a woman’s bargaining power. For instance, a state may enforce policies that favor women’s interests, which some communities may resist: the situation in parts of South Asia could be so characterized. Or the state, community, and family may reinforce each other in strengthening, say, the strictures on women’s social and sexual conduct, as has happened under many Islamic regimes. Or state policies may be congruent with the dominant interests of the community but individual families may find that their economic and market-linked interests are in conflict with the norms set by local communities. Many poor rural households in Bangladesh today are cases in point: here a push toward Islamization by the state, and supported by local communities, has dictated greater female seclusion, but such strictures are now being contested by many poor women who find they seriously limit the family’s livelihood options. Essentially, the local communities plays an intermediate role between the state and the individual or the household, in defining and enforcing social obligations and social practices, including those concerning economic activity. To the extent that the state as maintains a relatively gender-progressive position in policies, legislation and implementation, it provides space for individual women or households to exit from or openly contest a community’s gender-retrogressive stranglehold. It also provides space for women to build organized resistance against gender-retrogressive practices prevailing in the community and/or household. 

+  “Success in caring for one another is a precondition for the production of goods and services, but also an end result, a goal.” From Nancy Folbre’s classic 1994 text Who Pays for the Kids? And listen to Folbre’s interview on the Odd Lots podcast. Link

+  “The dependence of production on reproduction, of waged work on unwaged work, is an insight from feminists who redefine what counts as economics and what constitutes legitimate economic analysis.” By Jennifer Cohen. Link. And Frances R. Wolley on the “feminist challenge to neoclassical economics.” Link

+  “From the 1920s to the 1960s, women were quite influential in shaping Soviet Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy, within which the analysis of Western economic thought, assessment of modern capitalism, and justification of Soviet-style socialism were conducted.” By Anna Klimina. Link.


Intimate Partner Violence

ANOUSHEH ALAMIR is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin. In her job market paper, she explores the relation between public violence and intimate partner violence (IPV).

From the abstract

This paper uses the unexpected and geographically heterogeneous rise in drug-related violence occurring in Mexico since December 2006 to analyze whether living in a municipality increasingly exposed to violent crime changes a household’s internal use of violence. Combining georeferenced conflict data with survey data on household dynamics, I use two difference-in-differences methodologies to show that a rise in conflict-related homicides leads to a significant increase in the share of women experiencing both acts and threats of physical violence by their male partners. This trend is found in parallel to an average rise in women’s tolerance for partner abuse, and a drop in divorces on grounds of domestic violence in those affected municipalities. Furthermore, IPV growth is mostly found amongst households where the woman has low bargaining power. Thus, the conflict effect on IPV is associated with a rising tolerance for violence, which might become a new instrument for the male partner to get more decision-making power, especially when the woman’s outside options seem hampered.

+ + +

+  “Sanctions rigged the game, enabling a structural transformation of the economy that helped Iran’s richest households take a greater share of the nation’s wealth.” New on PW, Esfandyar Batmanghelidj and Zep Kalb on the distributional effects of sanctions in Iran. Link.

+  “If derisking and blended finance fail to mobilize sufficient private finance, it’s likely due to the structural limitations of companies like those represented at the World Bank’s new Private Sector Investment Lab.” And new on The Polycrisis, Advait Arun on the limits to private sector investment in the green transition. Link.

+  “In this report, a progressive alternative to permitting reform is outlined, one that focuses on increasing public capacity for planning, assessment, and community engagement to ignite the transition.” By Johanna Bozuwa and Dustin Mulvaney of the Roosevelt Institute. Link.

+  Two by Liani MK on Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia. Link and link

+  “Even if the bond market adapts, as it has in the past, its ballooning power, reach and complexity has some awkward implications for the global economy.” By Robin Wigglesworth. Link.

+  “85% of the company that operates Niger’s uranium industry is owned by France’s Atomic Energy Commission and two French companies; only 15% is owned by Niger’s government.” Thomas Fazi on the coup in Niger. Link

+  Michael Odijie on the tensions between state-level industrial policy and Regional Economic Communities in Africa. Link

+  “Ecuadorians have chosen to safeguard the biodiverse Yasuní National Park from oil drilling, marking a major triumph for grassroots Indigenous and environmental activists against the fossil fuel consensus.” By Angélica María Bernal and Joshua Holst. Link

+  “The unexpected success of the Salt Inspectorate in Republican China might well be best understood as the success of transplanting the Indian Civil Service to a very different environment. Despite its size and variability, China was likely a good fit with the norms of the Indian Civil Service because China’s educated elites were already steeped in a set of ideals about civil service, fairness, and the near sacred status of open civil service examinations. With the right combination of insulation and bureaucratisation, these ideals transferred readily to some policy arenas (Salt and Consolidated Tax) but were much less useful in areas of policy where there was a significant mismatch between the goals of the organisation and the personnel to implement those goals (Direct Tax), and didn’t work at all for most policy environments. But when we juxtapose the ideals of Indian Civil Service bureaucracy to China via a semi-autonomous, Western-dominated institution brought into being at the behest of international finance and compare it with the mother country (India) and the chief officer for tax at the turn of the century in India (Sir Richard Dane), there is one obvious question that remains. What accounts for the difference between India, where there was such mass discontent with the salt tax that Gandhi managed to convert that discontent into such a successful public procession as the Salt March, and China, where there was no such thing?” By Julia Strauss. Link

Each week we highlight research from a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career professor. Send us recommendations:

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