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CSU / Engineering / ECON 211 / What is the meaning of scarcity in economics?

What is the meaning of scarcity in economics?

What is the meaning of scarcity in economics?


School: Colorado State University
Department: Engineering
Course: Gender in the Economy
Professor: Christina curley
Term: Winter 2016
Cost: 25
Name: ECON 211-001 Gender in Economy
Description: These are notes from the first day of class up to today including notes from the slides and teacher commentary.
Uploaded: 02/12/2016
12 Pages 39 Views 1 Unlocks

Gender in Economics

What is the meaning of scarcity in economics?

Week 1 Notes

What is Economics about?

∙ Choices

∙ Neoclassical Economics 

o Mainstream economics/ dominant school of thought

o Concerned with decision making under conditions of scarcity

Economic Terms

∙ Scarcity: Resources are limited 

o Ex: time, money, oil

∙ Opportunity Cost: value of the next best alternative; what you are giving up for  something else

∙ Positive: factual statement; objective

∙ Normative: statement of desires and wishes

Economic Principles

∙ Central economic problem: how to allocate scarce resources in order to maximize well being

What is the meaning of opportunity cost in economics?

∙ Utility: how economists define well­being or satisfaction  If you want to learn more check out What is the power of the situation?

o Utility = measure of happiness 

∙ Rationality: the ability to choose the option that maximizes utility give the knowledge of  available opportunity

Families and the Household

∙ Families: consists of 2 or more people living together that are related by blood or  marriage

∙ Household: 1 or more persons living together

Use of Economic Theory

∙ Theory: explanation for why an event might have occurred 

∙ Economic Model: framework that explains human behavior

∙ Economist often use simplifying assumptions

What is the definition of utility in economics?

∙ Usual approach: examine effects of a change in a single variable while assuming all else  remains equal

Scope of Economics

∙ Mainstream economics tends to focus on the market and government  ∙ Gender economics adds:

o Analysis of non­market decisions and production If you want to learn more check out What does unconditional stimulus mean?

o Analysis of men’s and women’s work in the labor market and household  o Behavior of families and households and well as the individuals

o Correlate between gender and behavior/decisions 

The Meaning of Gender in a Transitional Era

∙ Gender roles have become less clear over time

∙ Confusing attitudes

o We believe in equality, but have deeply engrained values and beliefs based on  tradition

∙ Differences between men and women

∙ Essentializing: thinking or speaking as if all women are alike and all men are alike Gender and Sex

∙ Sex: classified by biological characteristics 

o Genitalia and sex organs 

o Determined by chromosomes and hormones

∙ Gender: is a social construct; acquired through interaction in a social world; gender is  learned

o We are born with sex but we learn to be masculine or feminine

∙ “Teaching” Gender

o Traits and behavior that match gender are socially reinforced

o Male and female children are treated differently from one another

Theoretical Approaches to Gender

1. Biological influences on gender

∙ Biological Theory: biological characteristics of the sexes are the basis of gender  differences We also discuss several other topics like What is the best definition of adaptive radiation?

∙ Hormones: estrogen and testosterone 

∙ Brain structure

oMen generally have greater development of the left lobe 

 Controls linear, logical thought

oWomen tend to have greater development of the right lobe

 Controls imagination, artistic activity, and intuitive thinking

2. Interpersonal Influences on Gender

∙ Psychodynamic Theory: emphasis on the interpersonal relationships within the  family that affects the child’s gender identity 

o Early relationships are the primary basis of sense of identity

∙ Psychological Theory: stress learning and role modeling between children and  other people

o Social Learning Theory: we learn gender identity through communication  and observation

3. Cultural Influences on Gender 

∙ Standpoint Theory

o Position in society (race, gender, class) influences circumstances in life o Different social groups develop particular skills, attitudes, and values  based on their place in societyDon't forget about the age old question of How does natural variation of inherited characteristics occur in a population?

Gender in Economics 

Week 2 Notes

Nature vs Nurture 

∙ Gender differences could be due to nature 

∙ Social structural approach

o Biology constrains roles and behavior

∙ Adaption 

o Tech progress reduces biological constraints

The Nature of Males and Females

∙ Sociobiology: the study of the biological basis of social behavior ∙ Some patterns of behavior have a basis in evolution

∙ Sociobiological explanation of qualities desired in a mate

Factors Influencing Gender Status

∙ Status has varied over time and across societies

∙ Certain technology leads to more or less division of labor on basis of gender ∙ A more important role in production outside the home leads to higher status ∙ Control of property and distribution is also a factor Don't forget about the age old question of What is the role of the celestial sphere on the earth axis?

The US Experience

∙ Preindustrial Period

o Colonial American: most necessities were produced in the home o Specialization

 Men did agricultural work

 Women did housework and light manufacturing

 Everyone did something productive

∙ Industrialization 

o Young women began working in factories until marriage 

o Married women’s responsibilities were to care for the children and home ∙ Evolution of the Family and Women’s LFP (labor force participation)  o LFC rate: number of people in labor force/population over the age of 16 ∙ 19th Century

o Family shifted from production unit to consumption unit

o Rise of “traditional family”

o Labor market still necessary for poor/single women

∙ Technological Progress

o Household appliances 

 Washing clothes more often

 More elaborate meals

o Due to technological progress the work performed at home was devaluated  ∙ Fertility (how many children being born)

o Agricultural production: children contributed economically 

o After industrialization, children became more costly

o Fertility fell from 1800’s to 1900’s

∙ 20th Century We also discuss several other topics like What is the solow model in economics?

o Household sphere shrinking 

o Increase in public schooling 

o Increased demand for clerical workers (female dominated) o Resulted in increases number of women entering labor market ∙ Women’s LFP rate was still low until 1940’s

o Marriage bars (married women couldn’t work)

o Lack of part time jobs

∙ 1940’s 

o Shortage of female workers

 Low birth rates in 1920’s and 1930’s 

 Increased education

 Women marrying at a younger age


 Pulled married women into labor market

∙ Occupations and earnings of women in the 19th/early 20th century  o Women dominated service jobs

o Professional

 Men were managers and proprietors

 Women were teachers and nurses

∙ Gender pay ratio

o 1850: 29%

o 1890: 46%

o 1930: 56%

o Now: 77%

Gender in Economics

Week 3 and 4 Notes

Neoclassical Economics

∙ Assumes humans are rational, self-interested utility maximizers  ∙ Tendency to treat the family as a single minded unit

The Simple Neoclassical Model

∙ Specialization and exchange: efficient and can lead to higher levels of  production

o Main benefit of traditional family structure

o Disadvantages:

 Specialization as a homeworker limits opportunities for  anyone in an abusive relationship to get out

∙ Assumptions about family

o 1 unit

o Adults make informed and rational decisions

Comparative Advantage

∙ How to choose who might work and who stays at home

∙ 1 person has the comparative advantage if he/she is giving up less by  staying home

o Lower opportunity cost

∙ It is frequently the case that women have comparative advantage in  home production

∙ Men and women are raided with different expectations/training  ∙ The already-established wage gap for women might lead to decision to  stay at home

Advantages of Family and Domestic Partnership

∙ Some don’t require specialization

∙ Economics of scale: each unit produced gets cheaper as you make  more

∙ Housing for 2 people is usually cheaper that separate housing for each  person

∙ Meal for 2 or more doesn’t take twice as long to cook for 1  o Ex: buying in bulk

∙ Public goods: available for use but one doesn’t have to pay o Ex: chores

∙ Externalities in consumption: occur when the consumption of a good or service by 1 affects the other

o Can be positive or negative

o Ex: when your roommate uses all the toilet paper

∙ Marriage specific investments: skills/knowledge developed that are  worth more in the relationship than outside of it.

o Ex: knowing your partners favorite meal is only useful in that  relationship, nowhere else

∙ Risk pooling: if 1 becomes unemployed, they can rely on the other ∙ Institutional advantages: health insurance, pension, social security Non-market Work

∙ Economists traditionally focus attention on paid labor

o Household and volunteer work go unrecognized by economists

Housework and Child Care

∙ Wives spend an average of 28.5 hours per week doing housework and  childcare

∙ Husbands spend an average of 17.4 hours per week doing housework  and childcare

∙ Married women spend an average of 10 hours per week on unpaid  work than unmarried women  

∙ Married men spend an average of 5 hours per week than unmarried  men

∙ Housewives spend an average of 43 hours per week  

∙ Since the 60’s wives’ housework has decreased and husbands has  increased

o Smaller families, better technology, some reallocation of tasks  

Volunteer Work

∙ Women tend to volunteer more

∙ Some studies indicate that women are more altruistic

o Altruistic: showing concern for others

∙ Men tend to donate more

Gender in Economics

Week 5

Feminism and Economics

∙ Feminism: the doctrine which declares that social, political, and  economic rights should be equal

∙ Feminist theory leads to questioning of economic theory ∙ Economics has been male dominated; economic theory mainly comes  from male perspective

Gender and Disciplinary Values

∙ Economics is a human practice, subject to human imitations, interests,  and biases

o People will study what interests them

How Gender Influences Economic Theory

∙ Objectively, logical consistency, math, lack of emotions, etc., are highly valued in economics (masculine characteristics)

o Irrational = emotional, rational = no emotion

o If an analysis contains emotion it isn’t taken seriously and  undervalued

∙ Break connection between valued judgements in economics and  gender

o Feminine qualities are less valued in economics

∙ There is some cultural association of masculinity with superiority and  femininity with inferiority  

o Masculine careers are valued higher

o Women are given advice to act like men in work force

4 Aspects of Economics

1. Economic Models

∙ Assume people are rational, autonomous, self-interested  oThese assumptions are used in most economic analysis

∙ Ignore family, parenting, unpaid work, etc.

oNot considered worthy for analysis

∙ Need better assumptions about human behavior that include  relationships with others

∙ Feminist economists seek to add qualitative analysis to models,  not decrease rigor

∙ Traditional models don’t reflect reality very well because  economists make very restrictive assumptions

2. Economic Methods

∙ Usually mathematical and statistical  

oFocus groups and personal interactions is frowned upon

oPsychology and sociology are considered less worth social  science

oThe math is supposed to make economics a “harder” social science

 People have higher respect because of the rigor

 Wage gap: economists earn more than the other  

social sciences

∙ Hardness without flexibility = rigidity  

∙ Logic without the big picture = out of touch results

oPoliticians make decisions off of economic analysis

∙ Scientific progress without human values = scary

∙ Including both feminine and masculine qualities makes  methodology flexible, attentive to context, humanistic, and rich  as well as strong, logical, scientific, and precise

3. Economic Topics

∙ Topics often restricted to the market; traditional non-market  activities of women aren’t considered

∙ Some models do factor in family dynamics, but are not helpful to  the feminist goals of equality

∙ Care of children, elderly, and the sick are appropriate economic  topics when they are provided by the market/government

oNot considered worthy if done in the home  

∙ In general, it seems like for a long period of time (until recently)  “women’s work” was not an appropriate economic topic

4. Economic Pedagogy  

∙ Pedagogy: the theory of teaching of how to teach

∙ Economic teachings are mostly focused on transfer of preset  knowledge

∙ Feminist economists would prefer a teaching style that also  fosters critical thinking, communication, and creativity

∙ Some women are discouraged form studying economics because  of some of the assumptions, the methodology, and even  

treatment from instructors


∙ Feminist economics is not meant to only be practiced by women, or to  rule out math and statistics

∙ Feminists argue that economics is less useful if it reflects only a  distorted view of masculinity in models, methods, topics, and  pedagogy

∙ Economics as a field needs to use a fuller range of tools and cover a  wider range of economic activity

Gender in Economy

Week 6 and 7

Consumption and the Consumer Society

∙ Consumer sovereignty: the belief that consumer satisfaction is the ultimate economic  goal; economy is ruled by consumer desires


∙ Decisions are heavily influenced by norms and marketing

∙ Consumer behavior is often cultivated as a means to the end of producers  o Producers influence consumer behavior

Consumer Behavior: The Marketing View

∙ Marketing professionals want to persuade consumers to purchase their organization’s  product

∙ The decision making process:

1. Problem recognition: perceived want or need

2. Information search: seeking info on how need can be met

3. Evaluation of alternatives: looking at similar products (combine with #2) 4. Purchase decision: buying the product

5. Post purchase behavior: are you satisfied or dissatisfied

Consumer Motivation and Behavior

∙ Why do consumers want and buy certain things?

∙ Human perceived needs:

o Physiological needs: hunger, thirst, sex

o Safety needs: for security and protection and possibly financial stability o Social needs: for a sense of belonging and love

o Esteem needs: for self-esteem, recognition, and status

o Self-actualization needs: for self-development and realization

∙ Consumers sometimes behave in irrational was because marketers know how to appeal  to their needs

∙ The degree to which we perceive a need is related to own past experiences and the  experiences of groups to which we compare ourselves to

∙ Group preferences change our own perception of needs

∙ Around the time of the 1960’s, marketers would appeal to men by putting women down  and appeal to women through social needs

The Role of Consumption and Marketing in Teaching Gender

Teaching Gender

∙ Male and female children are treated differently  

∙ Social learning: imitation and reinforcement

∙ Entertainment is a commodity that is marketed and sold

∙ Children’s entertainment involves TV, movies, toys, and games

o Purchase of these items establish gender roles

∙ What is produced is a reflection of society’s desires and values


∙ Traditional gender separation of toys

∙ Some classic girl toys involve childcare and cooking/baking

∙ Classic boy toys include action figures, robots, guns, and cars

∙ Girl = pink and boy = blue

∙ Toys correspond with potential careers

o Women are more likely to go into childcare jobs while men go into jobs such as  architecture and engineering  

What They Teach

∙ Girls toys = beauty, fashion, and homemaking

o While not technically a bad thing, but toys such as barbies teach that physical  appearance is very important

∙ Boys toys = violence and construction

o Teaches that strength and power are important

∙ There’s the double standard that girls are allowed and even encouraged to play with  boys toys, but boys can’t play with girls toys

o Parents become concerned and other kids ridicule when boys play with girls toys o Face direct discrimination

▪ Ex: Most people don’t want to hire a male nanny

∙ This shows that boys don’t get as many toy options and society sees masculinity as  superior to femininity  

Video Games

∙ Some video games appear gender neutral, but are marketed to males anyway ∙ Some video games are violent and demeaning towards women, or are really over sexualized, which would likely make women disinterested in playing  

Comic Books

∙ “Women in Refrigerators”: a term used in comic book fandom and sometimes science  fiction fandom to describe a common trope where a woman is brutally murdered in  order to progress the make protagonist’s story line. The term is more broadly used to  describe systematic violence against women in comics

∙ Women as Sex Objects

o Typically drawn as objects of desire

o Large bust, tiny waist, provocative clothing

o Drawn in sexual poses: bending over, arching back  

∙ Male superheroes are also drawn unrealistically and some are also scantily clad

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