Rice University
Rice Magazine| The Magazine of Rice University | No. 3 | 2009

Feminist Economics by the Book

Thanks to the Rice University-based journal Feminist Economics, economists in China will have greater access to comprehensive research about gender issues and economy.

StrassmanThe journal teamed up with graduate students in Peking University’s China Center for Economic Research to publish in book form a Chinese translation of its 2007 special issue on gender, China and the World Trade Organization.

Like the special issue from which it was derived, the book, which is titled “China’s Transition and Feminist Economics,” examines the consequences of China’s opening up to international trade and its transition from socialism to a market economy. It also illustrates how the accession of China to the World Trade Organization and the growth of the Chinese economy have elevated the overall well-being of many Chinese women but adversely affected others.

“Traditional economic analyses pay little attention to the unpaid sector of the economy and do not adequately theorize how activities like unpaid child and elder care are influenced by government policies and then feed back into decisions about formal work, production and consumption,” said Diana Strassmann, editor of Feminist Economics and professor in the practice of humanities at Rice’s Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality.

“There is an interest and demand for such information,” said Xiao-yuan Dong, who, along with Günseli Berik and Gale Summerfield, guest edited the issue. “Many economists just haven’t been introduced to feminist economic analysis. With this book, we hope to train them to approach their research with a more comprehensive outlook.”

The feminist economic outlook takes into account factors such as who household decision-makers are, gender roles and quality of life. From that framework, the journal research shows that minority women in China are now working outside the home at much lower rates. This may signal a return to traditional gender roles and indicate that minority women appear to be losing out in the more global economy.