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Estimating the Role of Social Reproduction in Economic Growth

Elissa Braunstein, Stephanie Seguino () and Levi Altringer

International Journal of Political Economy, 2021, vol. 50, issue 2, 143-164

Abstract: Do investments in social reproduction, or the time and commodities that it takes to produce and maintain the labor force, actually matter for the rate of economic growth? Using a Kaleckian macroeconomic model that incorporates gender and care provisioning, this article seeks to empirically evaluate this question. With panel data for a set of 121 countries between 1991 and 2015, the article uses principal component analysis to generate estimates of social reproduction regime by country, and then applies these estimates in growth regression analysis. Results indicate that the pressure on women’s care time that comes with their increasing labor-force participation—absent strong social and more gender-egalitarian supports for care provisioning—compromises investment and growth. In economies where those supports for social reproduction exist, the increasingly outward-oriented and market-driven macro structures and policies that prevail across a variety of countries, including those associated with financialization, are shown to constrain investment in human capacities and long-run productivity growth. In mutual social reproduction regimes, greater gender equality in the labor market and in the distribution of responsibilities for care also stimulates economic growth, while regimes built on the exploitation of women’s labor in these domains generate lower growth.

Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1080/08911916.2021.1942963

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