Women, Work, and Politics


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The Political Economy of Gender Inequality

Torben Iversen and Frances Rosenbluth

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Looking at women's power in the home, in the workplace, and in politics from a political economy perspective, Torben Iversen and Frances Rosenbluth demonstrate that equality is tied to demand for women's labor outside the home, which is a function of structural, political, and institutional conditions. They go on to explain several anomalies of modern gender politics: why women vote differently from men; why women are better represented in the workforce in the United States than in other countries but less well represented in politics; why men share more of the household work in some countries than in others; and why some countries have such low fertility rates.

The first book to integrate the micro-level of families with the macro-level of national institutions, Women, Work, and Politics presents an original and groundbreaking approach to gender inequality.

Torben Iversen is Harold Hitchings Burbank Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University. Frances Rosenbluth (1958–2021) was Damon Wells Professor of International Politics at Yale University.

“A pathbreaking study of gender inequality in different societies through the lens of political economy, Women, Work, and Politics offers an original interpretation of contemporary cross-national variations in female political representation. A fascinating and powerful argument.”—Miriam A. Golden, University of California at Los Angeles

"A major, potentially seminal work. One of the fundamental challenges in the social sciences concerns how to link micro-level processes with macro-level behaviors and outcomes. This book provides a model on how to do that, offering a methodological approach that has wide applicability throughout the social sciences. [...] It also offers numerous substantive lessons pertaining to the topic of how economic changes shape families and labor markets."—James Druckman, Northwestern University

"This elegantly-argued book investigates the economic determinants of gender inequality and links sex-based discrimination to stages of production.  When brawn trumps brain, Neanderthal sex relations prevail; however, when gentler skills reward achievement, women hold their own.  The authors write in a lively style, rich with many wonderful facts and insights, and the overwhelming impression at the end of the volume is that patriarchy is not long for this world." —Cathie Jo Martin, Boston University

“Iversen and Rosenbluth develop a micro-level bargaining model, embedded in a macro-level comparative argument. Their illuminating analysis is a major contribution to comparative political economy and gender studies.”—Robert O. Keohane, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

"This book provides an exceptionally clear, cogent, and interdisciplinary analysis of the links between childrearing and women's individual, political, and cultural bargaining power. Its broad scope and comparative methodology provide  indispensable insights into the  evolution of gender inequality."—Nancy Folbre, author of Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas

“Iversen and Rosenbluth construct a highly original framework for explaining temporal and cross-country variations in gender inequality.  No doubt some of their conclusions will provoke controversy, but the framework allows the authors to produce a number of novel predictions, and they provide empirical evidence that supports their predictions. “—John D. Stephens, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"The book is strongly recommended for anyone interested in research on male and female economic inequality."—D. B. Robertson, Choice

Winner of the 2011 Victoria Schuck Award sponsored by the American Political Science Association
ISBN: 9780300171341
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
224 pages, 5 7/8 x 9 1/16
26 b/w illus.
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