6 Responses

  1. Melanie Poole
    Melanie Poole June 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I think this kind of research (produced by male economists, I notice) treads a potentially counter-productive path, it really worries me. I don’t think we should be trying to argue for women’s representation in economic terms. It paves the way for people to then produce research showing the opposite (of which there is some) and then argue over the numbers, losing the point that women are half the population therefore they ought to be half the decision-makers. It also essentialises and limits women who do gain positions of power. They end up being disproportionately punished for not living up to the superior standards expected of them.

    1. Paul Burke
      Paul Burke June 2, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Thanks a lot for the comment, Melanie. I’d say it’s the job of researchers to try to understand the world a little better, which is what we try to do. We don’t say that economic factors are all there is to consider.

  2. Dinuk Jayasuriya
    Dinuk Jayasuriya May 30, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Thanks Scott for your comment. We agree that our hypothesis is not the only possibility; we were thinking of the average country and control for the possibility a fairer society is driving the result. There could be an ideal limit (i.e. is there a critical mass of females in parliament where collectively they can influence legislation that increases growth?) and as you point out diminishing marginal returns. And there are likely to be several channels via which this macro effect could work; corruption and public goods provision are two potential channels. Chattopadhyay and Duflo (2004, Econometrica) find that women invest in different types of public goods (e.g. more drinking water provision, but less of some other things). Other interesting areas to look at are whether there is a difference between developed and developed countries. Clearly, more research is needed to see how such factors might affect aggregate economic growth.

    1. Scott Wisor
      Scott Wisor May 31, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Thanks for the reply and explanation. Indeed an interesting and important area for future research.

  3. Albert Tobby
    Albert Tobby May 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    The bar graph above is revealing for PNG. No wonder those small island states with much fewer resources compared to PNG have much better development indicators.

    PNG 2012 National Election should be a turning point for all Papua New Guineans. VOTE FEMALE CANDIDATES.

  4. Scott Wisor
    Scott Wisor May 29, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for the interesting post and paper. You note that it is not clear why more female representation leads to better economic outcomes, and hypothesize that because women must go through greater obstacles to become representatives, they maybe more talented than their male peers and thus govern better. I am not sure this is the most likely explanation. For one thing, as female representation gets higher, the barriers to female participation should be lower. One would then expect diminishing returns to the excellence of female parliamentarians compared to their male counterparts. Two alternative explanations may be better candidates. First, as you note, women tend to be less corrupt than men. This is almost certainly a result of the social processes that shape the experiences and expectations around women, rather than some essentialist claim. In any case, less corrupt governance may lead to higher growth. A second possible explanation is that female leadership is more likely to focus on the provision of basic social services, such as sanitation, health care, and education, than their male counterparts (again, likely a result of their socially prescribed roles as carers). Perhaps governments that provides better social services and social protection lose much more GDP to ill health, and gain more GDP by having an educated workforce. This is all speculative, but the question of why you find this correlation is important. Hopefully readers can look forward to a follow up paper.

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