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Gender Differences: A Macroeconomic Perspective

Final Report Summary - GENDERMACRO (Gender Differences: A Macroeconomic Perspective)

The research investigates the importance of gender differences (and the interaction between men and women) for macroeconomic outcomes. To this end, dynamic macro style models with explicit gender differences were build. Moreover, novel models of spousal interactions with private information were constructed. The models were combined with novel facts to answer important policy questions.

One important finding is that policy interventions to curb HIV are tricky: some policies may have unintended consequences and hence backfire. The initial introduction of antiretroviral drugs (ART), for example, likely led to an increase in HIV. Only once a large fraction of the infected is treated does ART lead to a reduction in HIV. Another
finding is that focusing solely on female fertility when investigating child-bearing behavior may be too narrow. Analyzing data from men leads to quite different facts regarding average fertility rates in African data. Another finding is that domestic violence varies systematically over the business cycle: violence increases during recessions and falls during booms. Finally, we show that female empowerment may not be the magic bullet to promote economic development as is commonly believed. More specifically, providing monetary transfers to women may not not necessarily lead to more economic growth. If men are in charge of providing useful public goods in the household, redistributing resources from men to women may sometimes lead to reduced growth. Using data from Mexico, we show that more resources for women did indeed lower the savings rate in those households. Clearly more research is needed to understand whether and how female empowerment can be a beneficial policy for all.