Austerity geographies of gender inequality

Authors: Jamie Goodwin-White*, UCLA
Topics: Economic Geography, Population Geography, Gender
Keywords: gender, labor markets, inequality, austerity
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 35
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

What is the geographic variability in intersectional gender inequality and what does it reveal about political and economic climates that ameliorate or exacerbate future inequalities? The austerity policies of the Great Recession shifted public sector workers into service jobs, further reversing progress against the gender wage gap, especially for Black women. These same workers now face the COVID-19 downturn, and womens’ declining participation threatens to intensify wage losses for all workers. Although most research on the gender wage gap focuses on labor force participation and occupational segregation (the “explained” component), there is significant geographic variability in these factors: from state and municipal childcare and workforce development policies to metro-level commuting patterns. The “unexplained” portion of the gender wage gap also has much to do with geographic context, specifically with regard to local racial divisions of labor but also what Forshenga (following Massey) once called the “mainstream gender contract of the region”. Although economists often include regional dummies in models, finding mild significance, this approach does not embed complex contextual factors in regions, states, or localities or attempt to understand the spatiality of inequality. What is the nature of state-level occupational segregation, and to what extent does it explain the gender wage gap? Since the “unexplained” discrimination portion of gender inequality is greatest for non-white women, how do occupational shifts by gender and race affect the gender wage gap, and how do state political contexts matter? Does the spatiality of intersectional inequality point to ways forward?

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