With Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore soon to become the Augusta National Golf Club’s first female members, I keep thinking about how women have become more valuable. The reason takes us back to the family.
Assume for a moment that a family is a production unit–sort of like a little factory. In the traditional set-up, women and men contribute resources. Women bring their ability to reproduce and maintain a household; men are responsible for reproduction and economic sustenance. In other words, men had real dollar value but not women. And not having dollar value mostly meant having very little value.
However, once a woman enters the labor force, her worth can be quantified. By contributing to her household’s economic sustenance, at home and beyond, she increases her value. You can see from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) charts that conclude this post, women are increasingly participating in the work force, women earn money, they spend money and they are more educated. Their activities and accomplishments bespeak value.
And, as a woman’s value changes, everywhere she gets greater bargaining power…even at Augusta.
My Sources: For scholarly analysis of women’s value in marriage markets and of the family as a production unit with resource inputs and goods and services outputs, Nobel laureate Gary Becker’s The Essence of Becker is a perfect source. Then, as a complement with more of a historical focus, I suggest Claudia Goldin’s papers and books while the BLS paper for the charts (below) provides valuable statistics. In addition, econlife has looked at the recent controversy at Augusta that involved IBM’s CEO. Finally, I thank Eduardo Porter for The Price of Everything, whose chapter, “The Price of Women,” inspired this post.