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Gender Equality, Growth, and How a Technological Trap Destroyed Female Work

Jane Humphries and Benjamin Schneider

No _191, Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers from University of Oxford, Department of Economics

Abstract: Development economists have long studied the relationship between gender equality and economic growth. More recently economic historians have taken an overdue interest. We sketch the pathways within the development literature that have been hypothesised as linking equality for women to rising incomes and the reverse channels, from higher incomes to equality. We describe how the European Marriage Pattern literature applies these mechanisms, and we highlight problems with the claimed link between equality and growth. We then explain how a crucial example of technological unemployment for women—the destruction of hand spinning during the British Industrial Revolution—contributed to the emergence of the male breadwinner family. We show how this family structure created household relationships that play into the development pathways, and outline its persistent effects into the 21st century.

Keywords: development economics; gender equality; technological unemployment; family structure (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J12 J63 N33 O14 O33 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-05-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dem, nep-gen, nep-gro and nep-his
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