Women’s Work

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Nov 7, 2011    •    785 Views

The CEO designate of IBM will make it 29. There will be 29 women who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. 27 of those women are married, one is divorced and one never married.

Financial journalist James Stewart explains in the NY Times that the traditional balance of power in a family shifts when a woman runs a major corporation. Rather than the wife helping her husband, the husband “does the laundry.” In his article, Stewart asks whether we can respect the CEO’s househusband as much as we respect a CEO’s wife.

Our bottom line? As an economic unit, the family is changing.

The Economic Lesson

Led by Nobel Prize laureate Gary Becker (1930-  ), behavioral economists think of the family as a little factory in which a division of labor creates “products” including children and communal activities. Becker says in The Essence of Becker, “Members who are relatively more efficient at market activities would use less of their time at consumption activities than would other members.” (p. 108)

An Economic Question: Knowing that labor has a price, would you agree with Eduardo Porter when he says in The Price of Everything that the “price” of women changed with their increased labor force participation?

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