Tải bản đầy đủ (.pdf) (830 trang)

The elgar companion to feminist economics

Bạn đang xem bản rút gọn của tài liệu. Xem và tải ngay bản đầy đủ của tài liệu tại đây (17.52 MB, 830 trang )

T h e E lg a r C o m p a n io n to



Janice Peterson
and Margaret Lewis


This page intentionally left blank

The Elgar Companion to
Feminist Economics

Edited by

Janice Peterson
Professor o f Economics, State University o f New York-Fredonia,

Margaret Lewis
Professor o f Economics, College of Saint Benedict, USA

Edward Elgar
C heltenham , U K • Northam pton, M A, USA

© Janice Peterson and Margaret Lewis, 1999
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical
or photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission of the pub­
Published by
Edward Elgar Publishing Limited
Glensanda House
Montpellier Parade
Glos GL50 1UA
Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc.
136 West Street
Suite 202
Massachusetts 01060

A catalogue record for this book
is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication Data
The Elgar companion to feminist economics / edited by Janice Peterson,
Margaret Lewis.
1. Feminist economics. 2. Women—Economic conditions.

I. Peterson, Janice. II. Lewis, Margaret.
HQ1381.E44 2000
330’.082— dc21

ISBN 1 85898 453 X

Typeset by Manton Typesetters, Louth, Lincolnshire, UK.
Printed and bound in Great Britain by MPG Books Ltd, Bodmin, Cornwall



List of Contributors and their Entries
Affirmative Action
Agriculture (Third World)
Austrian Economics
Banking and Credit
Child Care
Child Support
Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession
Comparable Worth/Pay Equity
Contingent Labour Force
Development Policies

Development, Theories of
Discrimination, Theories of
Domestic Abuse
Domestic Labour
Double Day/Second Shift
Economic History, Australia and New Zealand
Economic History, Canada
Economic History, China
Economic History, Eastern Europe
Economic History, Great Britain
Economic History, India
Economic History, Mexico
Economic History, Middle East and North Africa
Economic History, Russia
Economic History, Singapore
Economic History, South America
Economic History, Sub-Saharan Africa





Economic History, United States
Economic History, Western Europe
Economic Man
Economic Restructuring
Economic Welfare
Economics Education
Education, Economics of
Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Family, Economics of
Family Policy
Family Wage
Feminist Economics
Feminization of Poverty
Game Theory and Bargaining Models
Glass Ceiling
Gross Domestic Product
Growth Theory (Macro Models)
Health, Economics of
History of Economic Thought
Human Capital Theory
Income Distribution
Income Support and Transfer Policy
Informal Sector
Institutional Economics
International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE)

International Economics
Labour Force Participation
Labour Market Segmentation
Labour Markets, Theories of
Marriage, Theories of
Marxist Political Economics
Minimum Wage
Neoclassical Economics
Occupational Segregation
Parental Leave




Pensions and Old Age Retirement
Post Keynesian Economics
Poverty, Measurement and Analysis of
Protective Legislation
Public Sector Economics/Public Finance
Sexual Orientation
Structural Adjustment Policies
Tax Policy
Technological Change
Unemployment and Underemployment
Unions and Union Organizing
Urban and Regional Economics
Volunteer Labour
Wage Gap
Welfare Reform
Women in the Economics Profession
Women’s Budgets



Contributors to the Volume and their Entries

Aerai, April Laskey, Department of Business, Economics, and Manage­
ment, Nazareth College of Rochester, USA.

Albelda, Randy, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts
Boston, USA.
Income Distribution; Marxist Political Economics; Welfare Reform
Anderson, Donna M., Department of Economics, University of WisconsinLa Crosse, USA.
Tax Policy
Aslaksen, Iulie, Statistics Norway, Norway.
Gross Domestic Product
Avin, Rose-Marie, Department of Economics, University of Wisconsin-Eau
Claire, USA.
International Economics
Badgett, Lee, Department of Economics, University of MassachusettsAmherst, USA.
Sexual Orientation
Bakker, Isabella, Department of Political Science, York University, Canada.
Development Policies
Balakrishnan, Radhika, International Studies, Marymount Manhattan Col­
lege, USA.
Barker, Drucilla K., Department of Economics, Hollins University, USA.
Economic Welfare; Gender; Neoclassical Economics
Bartlett, Robin L., Department of Economics, Denison University, USA.
Committee on the Status o f Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP);
Beller, Andrea H., Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.



Beneria, Lourdes, City and Regional Planning Department and Women’s
Studies, Cornell University, USA.
Structural Adjustment Policies
Berger, Silvia, FLACSO, Argentina.
Economic History, South America
Bergeron, Suzanne, Women’s Studies and Social Sciences, University of
Michigan Dearborn, USA
Berik, Giinseli, Economics and Women’s Studies, University of Utah, USA.
Bernasek, Alexandra, Department of Economics, Colorado State University,
Informal Sector
Brown, Doug, College of Business, Northern Arizona University, USA.
Capitalism; Postmodernism
Bruegel, Irene, Local Economy Policy Unit, South Bank University, Lon­
don, UK.
Urban and Regional Economics
Burnell, Barbara S., Department of Economics, College of Wooster, USA.
Occupational Segregation
Chamberlain, Mariam K., National Council for Research on Women, USA.
Glass Ceiling
Coleman, Margaret S., New York State Office of the Deputy Comptroller
for New York City, USA.
Labour Force Participation; Unions and Union Organizing
Connelly, Patricia, Sociology Department, Saint Mary’s University, Canada.
Economic History, Canada
Cornwall, Richard, Queer Insurgency, 155 Haight Street, #311, San Fran­
cisco, CA, USA.

Sexual Orientation
Deere, Carmen Diana, Economics Department, University of MassachusettsAmherst, USA.
Agriculture (Third World)
Duggan, Lynn, Labor Studies Division, Indiana University-Bloomington, USA.
Family Policy



Elson, Diane, Development Studies Programme, Department of Sociology,
University of Manchester, UK and UNIFEM, United Nations.
Development, Theories o f
Ferber, M arianne A., Department of Economics, University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, USA.
Contingent Labour Force
Figart, Deborah M., Richard Stockton College, USA.
Comparable Worth/Pay Equity; Discrimination, Theories of; Wage Gap
Floro, M aria Sagrario, Department of Economics, American University,
Double Day/Second Shift
Ghilarducci, Teresa, Department of Economics, University of Notre Dame,
Pensions and Old Age Retirement
G raham , Patricia, Department of Economics, University of Northern Colo­
rado, USA.
Banking and Credit
G rap ard , Ulla, Department of Economics, Colgate University, USA.

Grossbard-Shechtm an, Shoshana, Department of Economics, San Diego
State University, USA.
Marriage, Theories o f
Hamm ond, Claire Holton, Department of Economics, Wake Forest Univer­
sity, USA.
Women in the Economics Profession
H artm ann, Heidi, Institute for Women’s Policy Research, USA.
Comparable Worth/Pay Equity; Parental Leave
Headlee, Sue, Washington Semester Program in Economic Policy, American
University, USA.
Economic History, Western Europe
Helburn, Suzanne W., Department of Economics, University of Colorado­
Denver, USA.
Child Care
Hill, M arianne T., Center for Policy Research and Planning, USA.
Public Sector Economics/Public Finance

Contributors xi
Himmelweit, Susan, Faculty of Social Science, The Open University, UK.
Domestic Labour
Hopkins, Barbara, Department of Economics, Wright State University, USA.
Horrell, Sara, Faculty of Economics and Politics, University of Cambridge,
Economic History, Great Britain
Hyman, Prue, Department of Women’s Studies, Victoria University of Wel­
lington, New Zealand.
Economic History, Australia and New Zealand
Jacobsen, Joyce P., Department of Economics, Wesleyan University, USA.

Human Capital Theory
Jennings, Ann, Department of Economics and Management, DePauw Uni­
versity, USA.
Dualisms; Labour Markets, Theories o f
Katz, Elizabeth, Department of Economics, St Mary’s College of California,
Moraga, California, USA.
King, Mary C., Economics Department, Portland State University, USA.
Labour Market Segmentation
Kiss, D. Elizabeth, Department of Human Development and Family Studies,
Iowa State University, USA.
Lapidus, June, Department of Economics, Roosevelt University, USA.
income Support and Transfer Policy
Laurence, Louise, Department of Economics, Towson University, USA.
Domestic Abuse
Lewis, Margaret, Department of Economics, College of Saint Benedict,
History o f Economic Thought; Macroeconomics
Lucas, Linda E., Department of Economics, Eckerd College, USA.
Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
MacDonald, Martha, Economics Department, Saint Mary’s University,
Economic History, Canada



Manning, Linda M., Department of Economics, University of M issouriRolla, USA.
Banking and Credit
Matthaei, Julie, Department of Economics, Wellesley College, USA.
Patriarchy; Race
Mayhew, Anne, College of Arts and Sciences, University of TennesseeKnoxville, USA.
Institutional Economics; Value
McCrate, Elaine, Department of Economics, University of Vermont, USA.
McGoldrick, KimMarie, Department of Economics, University of Rich­
mond, USA.
Economics Education; Education, Economics o f
McKinney, Judith Record, Department of Economics, Hobart and William
Smith Colleges, USA.
Economic History, Russia
Meurs, Mieke, Department of Economics, American University, USA.
Economic History, Eastern Europe
Mutari, Ellen, General Studies Program, Richard Stockton College, USA.
Family Wage; Protective Legislation
Nelson, Julie A., Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts­
Boston, USA.
Econometrics; Economic Man
Nickless, Pamela J., Department of Economics, University of North CarolinaAsheville, USA.
Economic History, United States
Olmsted, Jennifer C., Economic Research Service, United States Depart­
ment of Agriculture, USA.
Economic History, Middle East and North Africa
Peterson, Janice, Department of Economics, State University of New YorkFredonia, USA.
Feminization o f Poverty
Power, Marilyn, Faculty in Economics, Sarah Lawrence College, USA.
Minimum Wage

Contributors xiii
Pyle, Jean Larson, Department of Regional Economic and Social Develop­
ment, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, USA.
Economic History, Singapore; Economic Restructuring
Rives, Jan et M., Department of Economics, University of Northern Iowa,
Unemployment and Underemployment
R obertson, Linda, Writing and Rhetoric Program, Hobart and William Smith
Colleges, USA.
Seiz, Jan e t A., Department of Economics, Grinnell College, USA.
Feminism(s); Game Theory and Bargaining Models
Shackelford, Jean, Department of Economics, Bucknell University, USA.
International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE)
Sharp, Rhonda, Economics, School of International Business, University of
South Australia, Australia.
Women’s Budgets
Shaw, Lois B., Institute for Women’s Policy Research, USA.
Poverty, Measurement and Analysis o f
Sosin, Kim, Department of Economics, University of Nebraska at Omaha,
Unemployment and Underemployment
Strassm ann, Diana, Rice University, USA.
Feminist Economics
Summerfield, Gale, Office of Women in International Development, Univer­
sity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.
Economic History, China; Economic Restructuring
Swam inathan, M adhura, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research,

Economic History, India
Tanski, Jan et M., Department of Economics, New Mexico State University,
Economic History, Mexico
Taylor, Susan K., Bank of America Corporation, USA.
Volunteer Labour



Tilly, Chris, Department of Regional Economic and Social Development,
University of Massachusetts-Lowell, USA.
Income Distribution
Waldfogel, Jane, School of Social Work, Columbia University, USA.
Contingent Labour Force
Waller, William, Department of Economics, Hobart and William Smith Col­
leges, USA.
Austrian Economics; Post Keynesian Economics
Walters, Bernard, School of Economic Studies, University of Manchester,
Growth Theory (Macro Models)
Woody, Bette, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Massachusetts­
Boston, USA.
Affirmative A ction
Woolley, Frances, Department of Economics, Carleton University, Canada.
Family, Economics o f
Wyss, Brenda, Department of Economics, Wheaton College, USA.

Child Support
Young, M ary, Department of Economics, Southwestern University, USA.
Health, Economics o f
Zein-Elabdin, Eiman, Department of Economics, Franklin and Marshall
College, USA.
Economic History, Sub-Saharan Africa
Zepeda, Lydia, Department of Consumer Science, University of WisconsinMadison, USA.
Technological Change


The principal objective of this Companion is to provide readers with an
introduction to the extensive and evolving literature of feminist economics.
The 99 entries included in this work address major concepts in feminist
economics as well as feminist economic critiques and reconstructions of
major economic theories and policy debates. In addition to providing
definitional and historical background information and overviews of feminist
and feminist economic contributions, the entries also contain suggestions for
further research, cross references to other relevant entries in the volume and
reference lists guiding readers to representative works. The use of technical
language has been kept to a minimum to make the volume accessible to a
broad audience of researchers, teachers and activists from a variety of disci­
Although there has been an increase in the recognition of feminist eco­
nomic work during the last decade, feminist economics is not new and has
deep roots in both the political economy and feminist literature. In the
mid-nineteenth century, for example, classical economist John Stuart Mill
and feminist Harriet Taylor Mill offered a passionate defense of the rights of
women and criticized the exclusion of women from certain occupations. As

criticisms of industrial capitalism intensified in the late nineteenth century,
Friedrich Engels drew attention to the inferior status of women in the Victo­
rian family as one of the flaws of the capitalist system. At the turn of the
century, Thorstein Veblen focused a great deal of his scathing critique of US
capitalism on the inferior (‘barbarian’ in his words) status of women, a
condition that he felt in many ways defined the economy of that time. Many
feminists of that era also addressed economic concerns and feminist writers,
such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Beatrice Potter Webb, focused explicit
attention on the importance of gender in economic relationships. Throughout
the twentieth century, feminist economists have challenged the established
doctrine on key concepts and issues within many economic traditions, enrich­
ing, and in many cases transforming, the literature on topics ranging from the
economic significance of domestic labour to explanations of the gender wage
gap and women’s roles in economic history.
During the last decade, these unique feminist insights began to gain recog­
nition as contributions to a new and distinct body of work, and ‘feminist
economics’ began to be recognized as an emerging school of economic
thought. The entries in this volume seek to examine the growing and diverse



literature on feminist economics in terms of five broad topical categories:
concepts, schools of economic thought, traditional economic fields (as cat­
egorized by the mainstream Journal o f Economic Literature), current policy
issues, and institutions of the economics profession. Thus, some entries focus
on the fundamental theoretical foundations of both economic and feminist

thought, examining such core concepts as ‘value’, ‘economic man’, ‘eco­
nomic welfare’, ‘class’, ‘race’ and ‘gender’. Other entries seek to provide
readers with an overview of the characteristics of different schools of eco­
nomic thought and the connections between these approaches and feminist
economics. A number of entries address issues and models that are drawn
from the traditional economic field designations such as labour economics,
development economics and macroeconomics. These topics present a special
challenge since many feminist economists, like other heterodox political
economists, find these traditional definitions and distinctions problematic.
They are used in this volume, however, to highlight the nature of feminist
economic critiques and reconstructions of orthodox economic concepts and
analyses as they are most commonly applied in research and teaching. An­
other group of entries address current policy issues, highlighting the importance
of linking feminist economic theory to policymaking and activism. Addition­
ally, some entries examine the experiences of women economists and the
professional organizations that have been established to provide support for
both the expanding presence of women in the profession and the further
development of feminist economic thought.
Feminist economists are a very diverse group of scholars and activists,
representing very different views on both economics and feminism. And
feminist economics, like all forms of economic and social inquiry, is chang­
ing over time. Consequently, this volume does not attempt or presume to
provide the definitive discussion of feminist economics, but rather seeks to
provide the reader with an introduction to many of the major themes, issues
and concerns reflected in the current feminist economic literature. The vol­
ume essentially provides a ‘snapshot’ of feminist economic thought at the
time the volume was crafted (the mid to late 1990s) and, like all snapshots, it
is a picture that reflects the location and position of the photographers. Thus,
while every effort has been made to provide as comprehensive an overview as
possible, the volume still largely reflects the interests and perspectives of a

particular community, one comprised predominantly of academic economists
in the industrialized world (particularly the USA). It is the hope of those
involved in this project that future reference works in feminist economics
will feature a new diversity of both topics and contributors.
The editors very much appreciate all of the excellent insights and sugges­
tions received from the many contributors to the volume, and we thank them
for all of their hard work. Many thanks also go to Joanne Foeller for her



valuable assistance in preparing the manuscript. In addition, we greatly ap­
preciate the understanding and cooperation of Edward Elgar and the members
of his very fine staff who offered their advice and assistance throughout the

This page intentionally left blank

Affirmative Action
Affirmative action was first used in US policy by President Lyndon Johnson
in the 1965 Executive Order 11246 directing federal government contractors
to take affirmative action to end discrimination in the hiring and pay of
minorities and women. This measure, along with Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963, established an executive enforce­
ment apparatus for equal opportunity and firmly shaped affirmative action as
the principal remedy for ending discrimination in employment. In the three

decades following, affirmative action expanded to incorporate reporting and
enforcement directives in the civil rights framework and litigation to clarify
remedies and sanctions. Two government agencies were created to enforce
affirmative action requirements, an independent Equal Employment Opportu­
nities Commission (EEOC) and the Office for Contract Compliance (OFCCP)
in the Department of Labor. The law directed employers to address inequali­
ties caused by past discrimination based on sex, race and disability through
affirmative action plans. A combination of government mandates and em­
ployer responses resulted in an evolution of affirmative action programme
content to include a diverse array of remedies ranging from institutional
changes such as personnel system restructuring to skills training and indi­
vidual career development.
Government contractors were also required to prepare affirmative action
plans and contracting agencies to further integrate contracting through ‘set
aside’ programmes which reserved a percentage of contracted work for mi­
nority- and women-owned business enterprises. Over the years, despite
evidence that affirmative action has been effective in reaching employment
goals to reduce race and sex bias in the workplace and is widely supported by
employers, attacks on affirmative action by increasingly vocal conservative
interests seriously threatened programmes by the 1990s. The basis of opposi­
tion to affirmative action constitutes a wide range from the accusation that
programmes cause inefficiencies by hiring unqualified women and minori­
ties, to the arguments that such programmes impose costs on white males and
unfairly stigmatize intended beneficiaries.
Globally industrialized and developing economies have been slow to insti­
tute affirmative action tools to correct visible lags in equal opportunity actions
for women and other disadvantaged populations. The 1957 Rome Treaty
establishing the European Union (EU) mandated equal opportunity which
subsequent acts have expanded to require that affirmative action be under­
taken by member states to end bias in employment of women. Many developing

nations have also followed this pattern in progressive constitutions and legis­
lation. As yet, however, both industrialized and emerging democracies have
been slow to implement serious affirmative action measures routinely in the

2 Affirmative Action
workplace. Research and theory, including feminist theories, have identified
many aspects of labour market discrimination globally to challenge conven­
tional economic thinking. There is a need for economists to undertake a fuller
exploration of equity, fairness and the benefits of equal opportunity regula­
tion to employers and the economy in order to support better policy.
The history of affirmative action is rooted in social and economic trends of the
immediate post-World War II period and political pressures to balance compet­
ing demands in the market place. Under pressure from the growing unrest of a
frustrated black civil rights movement joined by women’s consciousness activ­
ists, federal legislation and executive orders responded to failures to put an end
to discrimination and economic barriers by voluntary means.
In 1961, President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925, which banned
racial discrimination by government contractors and established guidelines to
promote equal hiring practices, borrowing the concept ‘affirmative action’
from a 1935 Labour Relations Act requiring unions to make up for past
discrimination. He also appointed a Commission on Women to study legisla­
tion and hiring practices of women. Following Kennedy’s death, President
Lyndon Johnson pressed successfully for passage of the Civil Rights Act of
1964 with Title VII which outlawed discrimination in employment in firms
employing 50 or more workers and created the Equal Employment Opportu­
nity Commission (EEOC). This later body, an independent agency headed by
a permanent, five-member commission was directed to set standards for

compliance, collect compliance reports and receive complaints from indi­
viduals. Employment discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex and
national origin (later amended to include disability and age) was prohibited
by employers, employment agencies and labour unions.
In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson issued Executive Order 11246 estab­
lishing non-discrimination rules for federal contractors and first-tier
subcontractors of more than 50 employees (amended in 1972 to include 15 or
more employees) or at least $50 000, and construction projects operating
with federal assistance. Employers were required, in Johnson’s words, to take
‘affirmative action’ to eliminate bias in employing or contracting firms. Ex­
ecutive Order 11246 also created the Office of Federal Contract Compliance
Programmes (OFCCP) in the US Department of Labor to coordinate other
federal agencies and specifically oversee and enforce government compliance
programmes. The Office required that employers establish plans and timeta­
bles for achieving equity goals for minorities and women in hiring, promotion
and compensation. For the first time sanctions were put in place using the
leverage of ‘debarment’ or the threat of loss of federal contacts in the case of
non compliance of the anti-discrimination law.

Affirmative Action


After a history of more than three decades, research has been limited in
exploring the efficacy of compliance programmes in meeting goals or meas­
uring other impacts of affirmative action on equal opportunity for women and
minorities. In theory, affirmative action should increase the demand for women
and minorities at all stages of the employment cycle, from hiring through
advancement and promotion and retirement as well as potentially narrow the

male-female pay gap (Gunderson 1994). Research is sketchy and results
ambiguous, however, particularly for women. Beller (1979) analysed US
Current Population Census Data (CPS) before and after enforcement was
strengthened in 1974, and reported increases in female earnings over the
period 1967-74 as a result of Title VII and affirmative action compliance
programmes, concluding that stricter enforcement led to larger reductions in
the gender gap. Impacts of affirmative action compliance reviews were exam­
ined by several researchers who found that occupational segregation, a
significant problem in women’s employment, was reduced following 1974
rule changes favouring women (Osterman 1982; Leonard 1984a, 1984b; Smith
and Welch 1984). The impact of affirmative action programmes on black
women, however, is less clear with some researchers finding gains superior to
those of white women (Leonard 1984c, Smith and Welch 1984, p. 271), while
others find more rapid progress by white women compared to blacks. This is
particularly true when education and work experience are taken into account
(Kilson 1977; Woody and Malson 1984).
The rise of the conservative movement in the USA and other western
democracies spurred a strong challenge to affirmative action programmes. In
the USA, conservative activists increased litigation in the courts and pro­
posed changing the law to eliminate affirmative action in employment and
education throughout the 1990s. Behind some successes in the challenge
were effects of economic restructuring and deeply felt opposition to remedies
perceived to contradict a strong American value that individual effort, moti­
vation and innate ability, and not discrimination, are the cause of black-white
economic disparities (Kluegel 1994). At the same time, public opinion polls
and views by leading business enterprises indicate support for legislative
reform rather than outright repeal of equal employment opportunity statutes
(Glass Ceiling Commission 1995).
Globally, affirmative action has not been instituted widely, although major
progress has been made in recent years in the European Union (EU) and in

individual member states, particularly in France. Article 119 of the Treaty of
Rome required equal compensation for women and men by member states.
The European Council which oversees the EU, further endorsed affirmative
action (action positive) programmes in 1984. From the 1980s up to the
present, the European Union Council and Commission have debated meas­
ures and options for promoting member state enforcement strategies with

4 Affirmative Action
only limited success (Nonon 1998). A 1993 study of 13 EU countries by the
European Commission found uneven programme commitments among coun­
tries and a lack of monitoring and enforcement of affirmative action
programmes specifically (European Commission 1993). In the UK, not yet a
full EU member state, the situation is even worse. The only redress for
discrimination by women is through individual complaints in the courts (Morris
and Nott 1991), compared to EU members where the International Court of
the Hague is increasingly available. The International Court of the Hague has
successfully settled discrimination cases brought by women who failed to get
relief in national courts (Nonon 1998, pp. 33-7).
At least one EU member state, France, has developed a comprehensive
affirmative action policy in its labour relations regulation administration.
This, along with recently passed equal wage legislation, parallels the affirma­
tive action policy in the USA. Under the French law of 1983 employers are
required to audit and file detailed reports of jobs and staff by sex along with
other personnel data including vacancies, turnover and salary and benefits. A
plan and timetable for affirmative action strategies, including attention to
occupational stratification or concentration of women in ‘women’s jobs’ is
also required. Works councils (comité d ’entreprise), a European institution
designed to increase worker management collaboration in the workplace, is
designated to oversee affirmative action plans while incentive grants are

available to offset programme costs such as training (Grizeau 1994). To date,
few evaluations have been made of the French programme. One analysis was
critical and found that while affirmative action has been on the books for
more than a decade, by the 1990s only 26 of some 300 plans filed have been
approved by the government (Serdgenian 1994).
Feminist thinking to date only tangentially addresses many of the issues
raised in the affirmative action debate and ensuing controversy. A few femi­
nist scholars have examined theory more closely, however, and find a failure
to account for inefficiencies caused by discrimination (Blau and Ferber 1986,
p. 262) and note that neoclassical economics in particular does not respond to
many failures in the market process to resolve special institutional problems
associated with labour market discrimination such as nepotism (England and
Farkas 1986; Williams 1993; Blau and Jusenius 1976). If discrimination
results in a poor allocation of resources in economic production, or reduces
the potential economic output of the firm, remedies should take into account
the labour deployment in jobs and tasks as well as in the concentration or
dispersal in particular occupational categories. These are issues which under­
score much of the affirmative action debate and offer important clues to
policy remedies. Research which probes and better isolates the costs of
discrimination in disaggregated components of production and output, as
well as benefits which firms reap as the result of eliminating bias, would help

Affirmative Action


generate support for affirmative action regulations as well as identify strate­
gies which may be most effective.
Affirmative action as the implementation side of employment opportunity

policy is aimed at changing organizations and in particular, personnel and
contracting systems and actions. Personnel actions are a central focus of the
requirements of both the EEOC and the OFCCP. All personnel actions are
considered appropriate for use in affirmative action remedies and include
recruitment and hiring, job classification, compensation and benefits, work
assignment, performance appraisal, promotion and advancement and termi­
nation rules (Tomaskovic-Devey 1993). The procedure for evaluation of
affirmative action is similar to the EEOC and the OFCCP. Following Title VII
and Executive Orders which prohibit discrimination based on race, colour,
religion, sex or national origin, government regulators direct employers of
more than 15 employees to review existing staffing and file statistical reports
annually (Yakura 1996). Where deficiencies in status and pay of women and
minorities compared to white males are identified, employers are required to
develop an affirmative action plan, including goals and timetables to correct
inequalities among employees. Affirmative action plans may be described as
requiring a set of specific and results-oriented procedures to which contrac­
tors commit themselves to apply every good faith effort. Contractors who fail
to file, or deficiencies identified as the result of complaints, audits or court
orders, can cause sanctions to be taken in the form of court actions, fines and
in the case of federal contracts and grants, suspension of eligibility to con­
tract with the US government, although sanctions have rarely been enforced
(Blau and Ferber 1986, p. 287; Yakura 1996, p. 26,)
To assess the economic impact of affirmative action programmes does
require attention to operational aspects of the workplace and how these cause
and promote bias. The economics literature on workplace discrimination is
extensive, but for purposes of a discussion of affirmative action can be di­
vided between effects of systemic discrimination and that of behaviour and
attitudes. Systemic discrimination, which relates to the structure of personnel
systems, including job groups, occupational systems, recruitment, hiring,
termination, job assignment, promotion and reward systems, have represented

the principal focus of affirmative action plans, because, even though such
factors by themselves are considered unintended or ‘disparate impact’ effects
(Gunderson 1994), they are still considered contributors to stratification,
segregation and segmentation of women in education and work (Osterman
1979; Hartmann 1987). Discrimination based on attitudes and behaviour is
also considered a serious cause of discrimination and can involve external
discriminators and women themselves through so-called ‘feedback effects’
(Blau and Ferber 1986, p. 229). Behaviour further is interfaced with struc­
tural systems such as the informal determination of job ladders, performance

6 Affirmative A ction
and promotion decisions, particularly into top hierarchies. Considerable re­
search has been made on attitudes and behaviour, including impacts of bosses
and superiors (Harlan and Weiss 1982) and peers and subordinates (Kanter
1977; Woody 1988). The collective impacts of behaviours are to reinforce
occupational segregation and maintain discriminatory job systems frequently
beyond the reach of traditional affirmative action. Thus affirmative action
programmes have placed less attention on behaviour change, despite evi­
dence that advancement and promotion are particularly highly related to
individual subjective choice.
Affirmative action encountered criticism from the beginning, but efforts
escalated during the mid 1990s to dismantle legal mandates and regulatory
systems supporting employment based on four principal criticisms: (1) pref­
erential treatment is ‘unfair’, (2) quotas constitute ‘reverse discrimination’,
(3) affirmative action stigmatizes intended beneficiaries, (4) affirmative ac­
tion promotes inefficiency and poor performance. The argument of fairness
for preferential treatment has been raised primarily by those opposed to the
use of affirmative action to integrate jobs and higher education in favour of
racial and ethnic minorities, but whose opposition does not include other

traditional beneficiaries of absolute preferences such as veterans of military
service, relatives or, in the case of admissions to educational institutions, the
sons and daughters of alumni. While there are no requirements for preferen­
tial treatment in the law (Norton 1996), numerical goals in affirmative action
have been used to accelerate integration of systems with particularly poor
histories of integration, and where social need is high for female and minority
staff such as police departments.
Quotas have been the single most controversial tool for affirmative action.
One reason for opposition is the perception that employment constitutes a
zero-sum game where one group’s gain is another’s loss (Yakura 1996, p. 4).
Quotas are frequently called ‘reverse discrimination’, implying that a fa­
voured majority suffers losses as the result of measures taken to equalize
opportunity for those suffering discrimination. Quotas are not required by
law and voluntary affirmative action plans rarely set quotas for minorities or
women (Woody 1988; Cox 1993). When ‘fast track’ or executive training
programmes are used, training slots are typically added on to a base number
to accommodate women and minorities rather than redistributed (Woody
1988, p. 5). Numerical goals are preferred by many businesses, however,
because they are easy to communicate, produce rapid compliance and are
unambiguous (Fisher 1994), and current French regulations do direct em­
ployers to use numerical goals in affirmative action as the only feasible way
to equalize men and women in occupational categories (Gadrey 1992).
Another criticism of affirmative action is that it stigmatizes minorities and
women as ‘deficient’ and is based on the notion that minorities and women