Monday, December 10, 2007

Gender, Loundry, Dishes and Welfare (fg)

Wow, that's a big thing! Alberto Alesina and Andrea Ichono analyzed the welfare effects when taking into account Gender Study implications. They conclude that
[a]ccording to taxation theory, a government should tax goods and services which have a more elastic supply less. As women’s labour supply is more elastic than men’s, tax rates on labour income should be lower for women than for men
Now the question is why is the women supply of labor more elastic than the mens' one? Well, so called Gender Studies give us an answer: It's because
men have more explicit bargaining power at home, therefore they assume fewer unpleasant and tiring home duties. Hence, they participate more in the labour market, exercise more effort, earn more and engage in careers that offer ‘upside potential’ i.e. higher salaries and promotions. On the contrary, women basically work only for their wage. As a result, men are less sensitive to changes in wages since what matters for them, relative to women, is also the expected pleasure they derive from careers and market activity.
To quote my co-blogger amv - that's bullshit! Firstly, why should men per se have more bargaining power than women at home? Things have changed quite a lot at home. Proponents of the systematic discrimination view of women at home and on the job forget that a multitude of women do indeed earn as much as men (I just asked about 10 male colleagues of mine; they confirmed that their female partners all earn more than themselves; in addition, yes, they all do the laundry and the dishes and no they do not have bargaining power at home - whatever that should mean). So this cannot be the point. Secondly, even if men earn more and engage in careers, it's economic calculus that women choose a flexible job environment. It would also be the other way around if women would bring more money home. Consequently, all workers (and rightly so independent of any Gender specific issues) with higher income prospects compared to their counterparts at home would be systematically punished because they see career opportunities, are motivated by intrinsic motives or have the ambition to supply their skills to the labor market. What a mess, if those who co-finance families would be punished for that! That is what I would call discrimination!

Any attempt to use highly disputed research agendas such as the genre of Gender studies for economic policy implications has to be abnegated and heavily doomed!