It may seem to the casual observer that women have made striking gains in their quest for equality with men since the early 1960s. But have they really improved their lot? Are they really better off economically? In this clear, compact, and controversial book Victor Fuchs makes plain that except for women who are young, white, unmarried, and well educated, today’s women have not gained economically at all relative to men. He shows that although women are earning a lot more, they have much less leisure time than they used to while men have more; the decline of marriage has made women more dependent on their own income, and their share of financial responsibility for children has grown.
Scrutinizing this relative lack of progress and the reasons for the persistence of occupational segregation, the infamous wage gap, and the unequal responsibility for housework and childcare, Fuchs shows that the standard explanations—discrimination and exploitation by employers—are not the most important causes. Women’s weaker economic position results primarily from conflicts between career and family, conflicts that are stronger for women than for men. Fuchs assembles many different kinds of evidence to suggest that, on average, women feel a stronger desire for children than men do, and have a greater concern for their welfare after they are born. This desire and concern create an economic disadvantage for women, even women who never marry and never have children.
Books like Fuchs’ don’t come along very often… He sticks to the highest statistical standards of empirical research, strives for balance and fairness, and he writes clearly and often movingly… Thoughtful discussions of the economic situation of women will begin here for years to come.
[Fuchs] provides a careful and reflective analysis of where we stand as a nation in our pursuit of gender equality and what remains to be done to move closer to true realization of the ultimate goal. Through a combination of authoritative documentation and thoughtful interpretation, Professor Fuchs creates a fresh and much needed perspective from which to consider the economic impact of gender.
A great deal of solid information in an easily digestible format… The book should generate much discussion in the years to come.
The information provided…is relevant, factual, and of human interest…[it] will help in defining women’s concerns to policymakers.
Fuchs has the ability—rare for an economist—to explain simple economic principles clearly. The book deserves praise for what it is and for what it is not. Fuchs does a commendable job of keeping his own preferences out of the exposition. His book is balanced and moderate.
- 176 pages
- 5-1/4 x 8 inches
- Harvard University Press
From this author
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