Economics & Gender - University of Houston
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Economics & Gender: A Shifting Landscape

Economics plays a fundamental role in shaping gender dynamics. Historically, gender roles dictated tasks and compensation, often undervaluing women's work in societal reproduction. This limited their financial independence and civic participation.

But recently that dynamic has been changing. Over the past two centuries, declining infant mortality, reduced demand for manual laborers, and increasingly reliable birth control have allowed women to devote less of their time to reproduction. This has freed them to invest more time in education and to enter the skilled workforce and civic life in increasing numbers, challenging old gendered work assignments and pay scales. Though disparities remain, things are more equitable than previously, and these changes have buoyed the economy. While they’re seen as beneficial by many, those invested in the status quo economy and power dynamics may push back against the shifts.

Understanding and addressing these interconnected issues and their ripple effects is crucial for building a economy where everyone can thrive.

Dive deeper: This section brings together analyses of the economics of gender and sexuality, including wage scales, pay gaps, workforce dynamics, fertility/population trends as they affect workforce, and interstate and international workforce migration patterns as they respond to recent gendered rights restrictions. Because economics shapes gender overall, you'll also find relevant discussions throughout our website that explore the broader economic forces impacting gender roles and opportunities.

Recent legislation restricting reproductive rights and LGBTQ freedoms highlights the complex interplay between economic opportunity, individual rights, and inclusive governance. IRWGS research suggests such restrictions discourage interstate workforce migration, potentially hindering economic growth in skilled-labor sectors. Other IRWGS work explores gendered wage dynamics in the local economy, the relation between reproductive rights and women's political participation, the effects of recent abortion bans on fertility rates and birth timing, and more.

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