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29 Jul 20 | News

Video: Prof. Michèle Tertilt (University of Mannheim) discusses the role of gender, household behaviour and family economics

Invited to LISER, the senior researcher shares a message for female students considering a career in economics

As part of the ‘Household Economics and Labor Workshop’ held on March 5-6, Professor Michèle Tertilt (University of Mannheim) was invited for an interview following her highly anticipated keynote address entitled “Status Externalities and Fertility in Korea”.

LISER researcher Alexandros Theloudis sat down with Michèle Tertilt and asked a few pertinent questions on decision making in households. They are:

  1. A large part of your research revolves around the role of gender and family in the macroeconomy. What have we learned from this research?
  2. Recent attempts to model household behavior resort to the assumption that spouses cooperate while making decisions. Some of your work admits that spouses may actually not cooperate. Why is this important?
  3. As gender economic disparities seem to slowly disappear, do you think we may soon no longer need to account for gender in models of economic decision making?
  4. What are the areas of family economics or gender that are mostly in need of new research?
  5. The European Economic Association and other societies have taken initiatives for the better representation of women (and other underrepresented groups) in the profession. What message do you have for a female student who considers a career in economics?

Michèle Tertilt recently co-authored a paper that studies women's employment in the Covid-19 pandemic (Alon et al., 2020, This Time It's Different: The Role of Women's Employment in a Pandemic Recession, NBER Working Paper No. 27660). The paper relates to much of what Professor Tertilt discusses in the video. According to this article, the impact of the Covid19 recession on women's employment is unlike any other in history. Usually, male hours worked vary much more over the business cycle than female hours worked. Yet, currently the unemployment rate of women rose by much more than that of men. Women's employment fell by more because they work in high-contact sectors and because of the school closures. In this new paper we build a quantitative model to analyze the medium and long run repercussions of the decline in female employment. We find that a pandemic recession is much deeper and that childcare needs are a big part of that. We also find that there is less role for family insurance leading marginal propensities to consume (MPCs) to rise, which matters for policy. Women's job losses have long-term consequences. In particular, while the gender pay gap narrows in regular recessions, it widens in the current pandemic recession. There is a silver lining though. While women do the majority of the extra childcare, the number of households with fathers as primary caregivers rises too. This may erode social gender norms and together with increased workplace flexibility benefit working mothers. In the long run then, the pandemic recession may ultimately lower the gender wage gap.

About the ‘Household Economics and Labor Workshop’

Gathering 60+ participants over a two-day period, the objective of the workshop was to create stimulating interactions between senior and junior researchers working at the intersection of household economics, labor economics, and time.
Discover the full summary here