044: Nancy Folbre on Feminist Economics and the Care Economy
Nancy Folbre is a recently retired Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst andcurrently directs a research program of gender and care work at the Political Economy Research Institute.
Professor Folbre’s research focuses on the interface between feminist theory and political economy, with a particular focus on the work of caring for others.
Nancy was elected president of the International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) in 2002, has been an associate editor of the Journal Feminist Economics since 1995, and is also an editorial assistant of the Journal of Women, Politics & Policy.
Nancy is recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, and she has consulted for the United Nations Human Development Office, the World Bank and other organizations.
Professor Folbre has also written extensively on the social organization of time, namely the time allotted to care for children and the elderly and how family policies and social institutions limit the choices people can make between paid and unpaid work.
She is a contributor to the New York Times Economix blog.
Nancy’s book ‘Saving State U‘ (New Press, 2010) makes a case for strengthening public support for higher education in the United States.
Other recent books include ‘Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas’ (Oxford University Press, 2009) and ‘Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family’ (Harvard University Press, 2008).
Nancy received a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1971, an M.A. in Latin American studies from UT Austin in 1973, and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1979.
In this episode, you will learn:
- why Nancy Folbre decided to study economics.
- how the household is very much like the market economy.
- about feminist household economics.
- what the underlying principles and foundation to feminist economics.
- why we should see unpaid work as part of the economy.
- how the state and the market has reinforced the patriarchal system.
- why the capitalist system, ironically, has downside effects on women today despite the benefits it provides.
- why we should adopt the Scandinavian model of paternal responsibility.
- about the unmeasured ‘Care Economy’ where people perform unpaid work.
- about the opportunity cost to care work.
- why Replacement Cost is a better proxy from a National Accounting perspective for measuring the size of the Care Economy.
- why people are intrinsically motivated to care and that money is not an issue.
- why Nancy Folbre strongly believes that we should think carefully about how we reward care work.
- about the ‘Care Penalty’ and why we shouldn’t take advantage of the care workers motivation to work in the care industry.
- about the societal pressures on a man who decides to stay at home and be the care giver.
- why we should be providing a better account of the costs and benefits of raising kids.
- if women have a ‘wage-penalty’ as they are, in most cases, the care-giver.
- whether we can capture the value spent by parents caring for their children.
- if intrinsic values of happiness lead to economic benefits for household.
- if children of developed and less-developed countries are treated differently by their parents in terms of their perception of value.
- about the rapid decline in fertility rates in India, Asia and Latin America.
- why self-interest was always described in gender terms and why it was always permissible for men to be self-interested than women.
- if having more women involved in economics and the economy would lead to better outcomes.
In this interview, Nancy mentions and discusses: Gary Becker, Shoshana Grossbard, Friedrich Engels and Adam Smith.
In this interview, Nancy mentions and discusses: feminist economics, market choice, economics of the household, altruism, rationality, interdependent utility, collective bargaining, choice, efficiency, inequality, incentives, opportunity cost, replacement cost, free market, Invisible Hand and happiness.
Quotes by Professor Folbre in Episode 044 of the Economic Rockstar Podcast:
Many people have taken Smith’s praise of the free market as an endorsement of selfish behavior, that it doesn’t matter if you think only of yourself because in a market economy we can be confident that everything will turn out just fine. What I argue in the Invisible Heart is that’s really incorrect. The market economy really depends to a very great extent on a sense of commitment and obligation to other people of trust and reciprocity and concern for the welfare of others. That affects overall economic organisation and success in some pretty profound ways – Nancy Folbre
Leading happy and worthwhile lives is kinda the point of the whole economic enterprise and sometimes we lose sight of that. And there’s certainly a lot of evidence that what makes people happy is good human relationships, having close ties with family and friends and community. If we appreciated that a little bit more fully, we could organise our economic system a lot more successfully – Nancy Folbre
“I think Feminist Economics is a part of the whole heterodox challenge to the mainstream economics, and I fell good about that” – Nancy Folbre
- Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family by Nancy Folbre
- Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas by Nancy Folbre
- Saving State U by Nancy Folbre
- The Invisible Heart by Nancy Folbre
- The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844 by Friedrich Engels
- The Invisible Hand by Adam Smith
- Care Talk by Nancy Folbre