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Gendered Labor: Paid and Unpaid Work in Contemporary Capitalism

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PDT)

Manchester Grand Hyatt, Old Town B
Hosted By: Union for Radical Political Economics
  • Chair: Katherine Moos, University of Massachusetts-Amherst

How Neoliberal Is China's Welfare State? Comparing the Chinese and United States Net Social Wage 1992-2017

Katherine Moos
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
Hao Qi
Renmin University of China


We compare the welfare states and taxation regimes of the two largest economies in the world, China and the United States, from 1992-2017. We begin with a comparison of each country’s net social wage, the difference between total labor benefits and taxes paid by labor, using two established methods. We further explore the debate within the NSW literature over the proper treatment of indirect taxes and proposes a new NSW-inspired method which also makes use of additional data on rural-urban divisions within China. The results of the comparison suggest that China’s welfare state has been less neo-liberal and more pro-labor than its US counterpart. While the net social wage in the two countries exhibited similar trends, the positive and increasing net social wage has distinct implications in the two countries. In the US, the positive net social wage reflects the plights of social reproduction, whereas, in China, it reflects institutional changes in the welfare state that have been used to resolve the social-reproduction crisis caused by the neoliberal reforms in the 1990s.

The Impact of Gender and Race Segregation on Labor Organization in a Social Interaction Model

Luiza Nassif Pires
New School for Social Research


This paper will contribute by formalizing the historical evidence of racial and gender conflicts within the working class as a game theory model. The formalization will build a framework that shows how the fall in the unionization rate in the U.S. can be understood as a social coordination problem. To do so, we confront the homogeneity of the working class by representing the fall in the unionization rate as a harmful result to the workers as a class but that emerges from the interaction of their individual pursuits.
Three versions of a social interaction model are used to explain the fall in the unionization rate as a result of competition within the workers. The existence of a coordination problem brings about an equilibrium at a low unionization rate, which is not the best social outcome for the workers. US data is used to complement the models. Furthermore this paper argues that bringing the feminist and racial perspective into the picture can help better understand the dynamics of class struggle and in general adding this layer of complexity can drastically change the results of economic models.

The Gendered Impact of Working Time Flexibilization

Lygia Sabbag Fares Gibb
Getulio Vargas Foundation


Increased working time flexibility is part of a larger labor market restructuring and pattern of decentralization imposed by finance led capitalism. The research shows that some forms of flexibilization reinforce the sexual division of labor by maintaining working hours that are precarious, split-shift or even random, home-based work with low pay and low social status that perpetuates caregiving roles for women in the private realm. Concurrently, forms of flexibilization associated with better pay and more social status do not accommodate the existing sexual division of labor requiring total availability for both men and women. The article concludes that while the demand for more flexibility in working time negatively impacts workers generally, these impacts are stronger in the case of women and reinforce the sexual division of productive and reproductive work which contributes to maintaining gender inequality

Longevity: Crisis or Blessing

Jenny Brown
National Women's Liberation


As the U.S. birth rate drops to a record low, power structure think tanks are expressing alarm that an aging workforce causing rises in entitlement spending. But are there really too many elderly and not enough young? Did women deciding to do something with their lives besides motherhood ruin it for the country? Is feminism to blame? I look at how longevity combined with Social Security has reduced the workload of reproductive workers, with beneficial effects for women’s equality; how lies about Social Security are used to promote a high birth rate agenda; and how public pensions are essential to make good on the promise of reproductive freedom.
JEL Classifications
  • B5 - Current Heterodox Approaches
  • J7 - Labor Discrimination