In male-dominated subjects, hiring favors women—for teachers in France

 

Few will dispute the enduring reality that women are underrepresented in many fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Gender discrimination in hiring at various academic levels is often put forward as a major reason, but recent studies have sparked controversy by suggesting that gender bias in male-dominated fields, in fact, favors women. Among the latest evidence going in that direction is a new study published in Science this week showing that, in France, the fewer female academics there are in a given field, the better chance women have of being hired as teachers in that subject. The hiring bias also seems to work in the other direction, though to a lesser extent, with aspiring male teachers being favored in fields traditionally dominated by women. However, the relevance of these results to academia and their generalizability to hiring processes in other countries are subject to some debate.

The hiring of teachers in France offers a unique, real-life setting to investigate the role of gender in skill evaluation. Every year, national subject-specific competitions are held at two levels—for teacher candidates to work at a middle or high school, or to gain the highest-level agrégation qualification to work in a high school, college, or university—to determine who will be offered a teaching position. Candidates are evaluated first by written exams, then oral ones. The identities of the candidates, and thus their genders, are only disclosed during the oral phase. Therefore, by measuring how candidates rise or fall in the rankings between the written and oral exams, the researchers could assess how knowing candidates’ genders affected their scores.

One of the main conclusions of the paper, co-authored by Thomas Breda and Mélina Hillionof the Paris School of Economics, is that in fields as diverse as mathematics, physics, economics, and literature, there is no evidence of discrimination against the underrepresented gender. “We rather find that the gender in minority is increasingly favored” during teacher hiring as the level of underrepresentation in academic faculty positions increases, the authors write in a joint email to Science Careers.

In male-dominated fields such as math, physics, and philosophy, the bias worked in favor of women: The hiring advantage gained by female candidates between the written and oral exams was equivalent to an average of 10% of female candidates overtaking all the men. Meanwhile, there was a subtler yet opposite bias at play in female-dominated fields such as literature and foreign languages, equivalent to 2 to 6% of the male candidates overtaking all the women between the written and oral phases. In most fields close to gender equity, including history and literature, no bias against either gender was found. The highest-level biology exam is however an exception, as female candidates faced a ranking loss of 4% compared to males, even though women represent around 46% of academic faculty in this field in France.

The findings are most directly relevant to aspiring middle and high school teachers, but they are also applicable to those pursuing academic research careers, the authors argue. In France, about a quarter of the candidates who pass the highest-level agrégation exam join colleges and universities, where they are hired primarily to teach but are also allowed to conduct research or prepare Ph.D. theses, the authors explain in their email. This is not the traditional entry route for French assistant professors, but a significant number of Ph.D.-holders take the exam to secure full-time teaching positions at universities while waiting to win assistant professorships. Having an agrégation can also improve aspiring academics’ career prospects in some fields, which makes the results more broadly relevant to academia, the authors argue in their paper. “The main message for female students is that they can enroll in the academic tracks traditionally dominated by men without strong fear of discrimination,” they write in their email.

Some however feel that the results aren’t as clearly applicable to academia as the authors are making them out to be. “[T]he authors did a lot of serious number-crunching and came up with some intriguing findings,” says psychologist Virginia Valian of Hunter College in New York City. But the hiring processes and prestige of high school teachers and university faculty members in France are not the same, and a stronger distinction should have been made throughout the article, Valian adds. The fact that only a minority of agrégation-holders go on to an academic career is “a serious limitation to the study.”

Social scientist Kim Weeden, director of the Center for the Study of Inequality at Cornell University, sees another limitation: generalizability to other countries. “In the United States, for example, hiring into professorial positions is based on very local and non-standardized evaluations of candidates’ publications and scholarly potential, teaching record and teaching potential, ‘fit’ with the department, and so forth. Patterns of test scores on standardized exams in France just can’t tell us much about hiring in these systems,” she writes in an email to Science Careers. Even so, Weeden praises the study’s “very rigorous, creative analysis of a unique and high-quality data set.”

The findings are nonetheless in line with recent controversial studies based in the United States. Among them was a 2015 study that found, based on faculty member evaluations of fictitious job candidates, that women are favored 2 to 1 for tenure-track positions in engineering, biology, and psychology. One of the authors of that paper, developmental psychologist Stephen Ceci of Cornell University, thinks the new findings are encouraging for women pursuing STEM. “Young people, particularly young women, should be heartened by these findings because it goes against the common narrative that says the deck is stacked against them from being hired as entry-level professors,” he writes in an email to Science Careers. (Ceci gave Breda and Hillion feedback on their manuscript before submission but otherwise does not collaborate with them.) “If anything, the data reveal that the fields in which they are most underrepresented are the very ones that desire them most. If bias is at work, it is bias in their favor, not against them.”

Valian sees it somewhat differently. “Do their findings suggest that women are going to benefit by being badly represented in a field? Hardly. The authors have to wonder why women continue not to be well represented in math, physics, and philosophy, in universities and research institutes. If the exams are picking those women out at higher levels, why don’t we see them succeeding more?”

The new data don’t provide much insight into the underlying factors behind the skewed hiring. It could be, for example, that rather than reacting to gender underrepresentation across different fields in academia—which, the authors argue, reflects societal stereotypes—examiners were simply trying to redress gender imbalances they saw in the applicant pool, or even in past exam winners. This is unlikely to be the case, however, the authors argue in their paper, because many of the exams were close to parity both among candidates and past winners. The most plausible explanation, they continue, is that examiners were trying to counteract gender stereotypes.

Weeden however thinks that the authors “are a bit too hasty” in concluding an evaluator bias, as “the various checks that they offer against other interpretations aren’t as convincing as the general pattern of results,” she says. In particular, the oral exams seem to be designed to test pedagogical skills as well as subject knowledge, she notes, so one alternative explanation could be that “the very select group of women who pass the written tests in math are better than the very select group of men who pass those tests at explaining complex math concepts, [a scenario in which] they [would] also rank higher on the oral exams in math.”

To help address the continued underrepresentation of women in many fields in academia, in their paper Breda and Hillion call for implementing policies to counteract stereotypes and discrimination at early stages before educational choices are made, and spreading the message to female students that they have equal or even better chances to succeed as teachers and academics in fields where women are the minority—which is an approach that Ceci agrees is the right one. “By forcing the argument back to earlier in development, Breda and Hillion’s results demonstrating that women are not discriminated against in exam scoring and, in fact[,] are advantaged … suggest that hiring-point policies—such as mandating gender sensitivity training for members of hiring committees, or a certain portion of members must be women—are missing the point,” he writes.

But Weeden is only partially convinced. She agrees with the recommendation to counteract stereotypes at early ages, which is consistent with a substantial body of sociology research, including some of her own work, “show[ing] that by early high school, significantly more young men than young women plan to enter engineering, math, and other male-dominated STEM occupations,” she says. But “even among students who show an early commitment to science-related careers, who score well on standardized math exams, and who take high-level math and science courses, young women are much more likely than men to drop out—or be pushed out—of educational pathways that would lead to high-level science careers,” she continues. “Understanding the educational decisions that kids make early in their lives is important, but it’s certainly not the only life stage at which social processes can lead to women’s underrepresentation in science-related occupations.”

Curt Rice, president of Oslo and Akershus University College and head of Norway’s Committee on Gender Balance and Diversity in Research, takes a harder line. On the one hand, he welcomes this large-scale study from France, noting that it is “important to counter the US-dominance of subject pools in this kind of research,” he writes in an email to Science Careers. Also, “[s]tudies which look at significant quantities of ‘real data’ instead of simulations are important and interesting, even though they necessarily will have more variables that have not been controlled for.” But the authors’ recommendation “to bright young women … to study fields in which women are underrepresented … [is] vapid,” he continues. “The test results they discuss tell us nothing about the experience women have in the classroom or workplace when they are severely underrepresented. Of course, I want bright young women to choose STEM subjects, too, but the nuances of the French exam grading system seem to get overplayed in this advice.”

 

By          :               Elisabeth Pain

Date       :               July 29, 2016

Source    :               Science Magazine

http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2016/07/male-dominated-subjects-hiring-favors-women-teachers-france

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Earning Less Money Isn’t A Choice That Women Just Make

 

The pay gap is a complicated cultural stew.

Women don’t choose to make less money than men. But that’s often the criticism leveled when we talk about the gender pay gap, or the fact that women, on average, make only 79 cents for every dollar a man earns.

The argument typically is: Women look for work in lower-paying professions, so of course they make less than men.

Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, has heard that claim a lot since she published research showing that women earn $4 an hour less than men right out of college. Gould and EPI researcher Jessica Schieder published a paper on Wednesday explaining why the pay gap has little to do with real choice.

“People were not understanding the full picture,” Gould told The Huffington Post.

It’s true that many women do not pursue higher-paying jobs in engineering or science ― fields that are dominated by men. But that’s not the main reason the pay gap exists. In fact, 68 percent of the gap can be explained by the fact that women make less than men within the same occupations, as Gould and Schieder note.

“Leaving aside the fact that women’s career choices are shaped by gender norms and expectations, the fact is that most of the gender wage gap can be explained by the fact that women, on average, are paid less than men in the same occupation,” Gould said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Female doctors, for example, earn $51,000 less than male doctors on average, a study recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine found.

A few enlightened companies are looking at their payrolls to determine if there’s a problem. Recently, the software company Salesforce found a pay gap among its employees and spent $3 million to rectify it. A few other firms have published the results of internal audits. Amazon recently said that it pays women and men equally, though it didn’t explain how it arrived at that conclusion.

Other industries aren’t so forthcoming. The union that represents reporters at The Wall Street Journal recently revealed that women at the paper make 87 cents for every dollar a man earns there. Though the company has pledged to address the problem, there’s been no action announced yet on this front.

“A company can look at their policies, but the vast majority are not,” Gould told HuffPost. “That’s an easy solution but it’s not happening.”

Of course, there’s more to the gap. Women and men do tend to get steered toward certain educational and professional paths. More men than women become engineers, for example, and more women than men choose social work. Those decisions, Gould and Schieder write, are influenced by cultural forces that cry out for further examination.

For example, at a very young age girls are often steered away or discouraged from pursuing math and science. It happens at toy stores where science kits are stocked in the boys’ aisle, and in classrooms where girls receive less attention than boys and teachers underestimate their female students.

Even if women do make it into the higher-paying tech industry later on, they often feel alienated from a male-dominated culture.

One 2008 study found that 63 percent of women who work in science, tech and engineering experience sexual harassment. Women leave these industries at higher rates than men.

“Decisions women make about their occupation and career do not happen in a vacuum,” Gould and Schieder write. “They are also shaped by society.”

The authors also point to a recent study showing that once women do enter a field, wages in that profession actually tend to fall.

When women come onto the scene, “it just doesn’t look like it’s as important to the bottom line or requires as much skill,” Paula England, a sociology professor at New York University, told The New York Times earlier this year. “Gender bias sneaks into those decisions.”

But wait ― there are yet more layers baked into this cake. Because domestic responsibilities are still overwhelmingly coded as female, women often have to work the equivalent of two jobs ― acting as caregivers of children or elderly relatives while also working for an actual salary. That puts them in a bind when it comes to taking on work that demands long hours.

This, in part, helps to explain why there are so few female partners at prestigious law firms and in demanding fields like investment banking. And even at the highest levels of business, women’s salaries tend to suffer more than men’s when times are tough.

 

By          :               Emily Pleck

Date       :               July 21, 2016

Source    :               Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gender-pay-gap_us_578f99a8e4b07c722ebd2791

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Gender Policing in Academe

 

I have graduate school to thank for the years of tension between my queer gender identity and the norms and expectations of academe, writes Eric Anthony Grollman.

Now 31 years old, I am still struggling to figure out my gender identity. I knew by age 5 that I was unlike other boys, even declaring to my mother that I should have been born a girl. I came out as bisexual as a senior in high school, then gay in my freshman year of college. With exposure to feminist and queer theories and activism in college, I found a more fitting identity — queer — to reflect my own sense of gender and attraction to masculinity broadly defined (no matter others’ bodies or sex).

But I have graduate school to thank for my stepping back into the closet, at least in terms of my gender identity and expression — and for nine years of wrestling with the tension between my queer gender identity and the masculinist norms and expectations of academe.

Sociology became a woman-dominated discipline — at least in terms of degrees awarded — before I ever became a sociology major in college. In 2012, women were close to half or more of the faculty in two-thirds of sociology graduate programs in America, representing huge growth over the previous decade. (I imagine this number is much lower for women sociologists at the associate and full professor levels. And gender equity may have stalled, or even reversed, with the over representation of women among adjunct professors.) But in 2012, only 22 percent of graduate departments had more than one-quarter of their faculty specializing in the sociology of gender – and the same number making a genuine commitment to women scholars and the sociological study of gender.

In my own graduate training, I found even some of the faculty members who specialized in gender did not encourage research in this area. The discouragement seemed strongest for those planning to use qualitative methods (too “touchy-feely”), feminist and queer lenses (too “activisty”), and feminist or gender studies approaches (too interdisciplinary). Despite commendable representation of (cis)women in my department and the discipline more generally, I learned that many (men) sociologists appear to hate women and see masculinity as central to good scholarship.

In reading A. W. Strouse’s essay criticizing the inherent heterosexism and queerphobia of American graduate education, I finally realized that I am not alone in struggling with the white heteromasculinist under- and overtones of my graduate training. As Strouse aptly points out, professional (re)socialization of graduate school is centrally a task of eliminating passion, love, creativity and originality from would-be scholars’ lives — or at least presenting ourselves as detached, subdued, conforming — that is, “professional.”

In our writing, we were discouraged from “flowery,” verbose and creative prose, instead getting to the point concisely and speaking with unwavering authority. In fact, it is best to avoid writing in the first person at all costs so as to present arguments as taken-for-granted truths, rather than offered by an individual scholar. There is a reason why the feminist scholarly practice of being transparent about one’s social location never caught on in mainstream sociology; seemingly objective research is the highest form of inquiry, and everything else is suspect.

Masculinist authority was equally valued in how one presents one’s research in workshops, talks and conferences. As one grad school professor warned me, “none of this ‘shy guy’ stuff” — scholarly presentations were not actually spaces to present incomplete projects or uncertainty. (And don’t even think about attempting to shirk male privilege by rejecting an authoritative tone and presence!) Whatever it means to be a “shy guy” was seen as distracting at best, or antithetical to my scholarship at worse. I could not help but assume that this professor’s comment was a more polite way of telling me to “man up.” And, upon comparing notes with a cis gay man in the program, I learned that the professor had, indeed, a reputation for telling queer men students to “man up.” Perhaps I had been pegged as too sensitive for the harsher, more offensive version of this advice.

I have wrestled, more generally, with the demand to strip away all emotion. Well-meaning friends and colleagues have criticized me for becoming increasingly more angry as I present at conferences, that my own rage about oppression and the detriment it has on the health of oppressed individuals is inappropriate for an academic setting. I learned to stop pounding my fist on the podium, but I have not quite mastered the stiff upper lip. Showing emotion is weak; a true scholar would never be so personally invested in the plight of marginalized communities.

To my surprise, the devaluation of femininity is not limited to the erasure of feminine expressions in academics who were assigned male at birth. I have witnessed the policing of femininity in cisgender women academics, even those who are femme presenting.

For example, two weeks in a row in my Preparing Future Faculty course, the cis woman professor chastised cis women students for their “feminine” and “girly” behavior. I agree that beginning a presentation or conversation by apologizing in advance for subpar quality or ideas only serves to undermine what one has to say. But I found it quite troubling that a woman professor so openly, publicly and forcefully berated these women students for their feminine presentation of self, especially in a mixed-gender class. Perhaps a private conversation, wherein the professor could talk more at length about her concerns about the sexist ways in which women scholars are received in the academy, would have been better and less offensive. But, then again, this is the same professor who interrupted my own presentation to ask, “Oh, we haven’t beaten the activist out of you yet?” Clearly, academic training is about beating graduate students into submission and conformity.

I have heard women friends and colleagues note the related practice of rewarding masculinity in women in academe. Short hairstyles and masculine attire appeared to be much more common among my grad department’s most successful women faculty. The more assertive you could be, the better. The more you could do to reject your femaleness and femininity, the more successful you could be in the academy. Women who insisted on having children should calculate pregnancy just right so that they could “pop one out” during a break in the school year. I am often shocked by how openly academics and academic institutions attempt to regulate women scholars’ reproductive choices and sex lives. Some women academics are complicit, unapologetically giving advice to “keep your legs closed,” delay motherhood as long as possible or forgo it all together.

It has taken me three years post-Ph.D. to recognize the role my graduate education has played in stalling my gender journey. I entered the program beginning to embrace a genderqueer identity and reject the restrictive category of “man.” In a different life, I might be well on my way to rocking stylish, colorful outfits, being as fab as I want to be, or at least much more comfortable in my unique skin. But, in this life, I have to first recover from the damage of my graduate training to my sense of self.

I have only recently reclaimed a genderqueer identity, now finding “nonbinary” to better describe who I am as a gendered being. I have slowly dropped the suit and tie as a protective shield and begun to slowly come out publicly as kind of, sort of trans. Another path to my own liberation sadly entails rejecting the femmephobia, queerphobia and transphobia of the academy. Embracing an authentic gender identity and expression entails reconceptualizing what it means to be a scholar. (Why are the two intertwined in the first place!)

No advice to offer to others just yet — my apologies for that. But I hope that more of us will acknowledge, critique and resist the ways in which academe polices the gender presentation of scholars.

Eric Anthony Grollman is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Richmond and the editor of “Conditionally Accepted.” Their research investigates the impact that prejudice and discrimination have on the health, well-being and worldviews of oppressed communities, particularly those who hold multiple marginalized identities (e.g., LGBTQ people of color).

 

By          :               Eric Anthony Grollman

Date       :               July 29, 2016

Source   :               https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2016/07/29/academy-polices-gender-presentation-scholars-essay

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Sociology professor on racism, inequality: ‘We get better’

 

The recent shootings of African-American men by police in Louisiana and in Minnesota, followed by the shootings of five police officers in Dallas, have once again sparked protests across the country and debate over racial bias and disparities in the criminal justice system.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology in the College of Humanities and Sciences at Virginia Commonwealth University and a faculty associate at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, has been a prominent voice nationally in the debate.

She recently spoke with VCU News about Black Lives Matter, the roles of implicit and explicit bias, and why she has hope for better things ahead.

In the wake of the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the shootings of five police officers in Dallas, and protests across the country, do you feel that we’re at a pivotal moment for race relations in the U.S.? Do you foresee positive changes ahead? What are the keys to making real progress?

I am not sure if this is a pivotal moment for race relations. It is shaping up to be a pivotal moment for social movements in the U.S. and abroad. The banner of Black Lives Matter has become a global phenomena. Sociologists aren’t good at predicting the future—there are just too many variables in the social world.

I don’t know that I foresee positive changes but I am very encouraged by young people finding their political voice, groups forming coalitions across race, class, gender and identity, and the impact this has had on the election season. I am hopeful because those are the keys to making real progress—political organizing, multigenerational social movements, coalition building and political change.

You and many others have discussed how implicit bias plays a crucial role in police interactions with African-Americans. How can that bias be successfully addressed?

First, let me be clear that implicit bias is part of a larger apparatus of explicit bias, state-sanctioned bias, and accumulated systemic disadvantage. Each of these must be addressed for any one of them to be addressed.

The first step is acknowledging that good intent does not necessarily make for good actions or good politics. It is hard to accept our inherent biases and unearned privileges. But, if we are committed to justice, each of us must do this personal work of accepting that we do not always live up to our ideal selves. I know many of my colleagues accept the challenge of education as critical to this process. For example, many of us use the implicit bias association test from Harvard University to explore these issues in the classroom. That’s part of addressing bias: acknowledging it, labeling it and becoming conversant in its history and context.

More broadly, as citizens we can demand that our public services also do this hard work so that we are better stewards of the public’s faith in our police, emergency services, political bodies and civic institutions.

As a sociologist who studies issues of race and class, what have been your big takeaways from the last couple weeks? Has the discussion been missing anything important that you’d want to highlight?

My takeaway is that sociology is still very much necessary. There is a reason that we see more sociologists in the news and in the public sphere. We are trained to think about how history and the circumstances of our biography shape and are shaped by each other. We are trained to understand complex social processes like the macro conditions that produce racially segregated neighborhoods where micro processes like interpersonal discrimination and implicit bias result in violence and broken public trust.

Often, when I teach my undergraduate sociology of race and ethnicity course, the students say they’re so discouraged by the historical trajectory of race and racism, class and inequality. I tell them the other big lesson from sociology: We get better. We really do. We long have. Our social organisms get healthier. Our humanness becomes more expansive. We make a difference and we change things for the better.

And that’s my takeaway over a few weeks that have been part of a brutal few years in a history of dark moments: We get better. It is hard to see it in the short term but it is true in the long term if we work towards it.

So, I am cheered when young people want to organize, when older people share their wisdom with a new generation of scholars and activists, and when we keep showing up to practice democracy in difficult, dangerous conditions. If anything is missing from the national conversation it is that practicing democracy is messy—and that is what we’re seeing, democracy in action—and that, if history proves right, those who are practicing that democracy right now do so for the benefit of us all.

 

By          :               Brian Mcneill

Date       :               July 15, 2016

Source    :               Phys.org

http://phys.org/news/2016-07-sociology-professor-racism-inequality.html

Posted in Latest Post, Social and Economic Inequalities | Leave a comment

Poverty and inequality after reforms

 

Creating productive employment and providing quality education are two of the most important measures

India embarked on big-bang economic reforms 25 years back in 1991. It is well-known that GDP growth has been much higher in the post-reform period. However, GDP is only one metric. Ultimately, the success of reforms depends on whether the well-being of people, particularly that of poor, increased over time. In this context, let’s examine the impact of economic reforms on poverty and inequality.

There are two conclusions on trends in poverty. The first one, shown in a World Bank study by Gaurav Datt and others, is that poverty declined by 1.36 percentage points per annum after 1991, compared to that of 0.44 percentage points per annum prior to 1991. Their study shows that among other things, urban growth is the most important contributor to the rapid reduction in poverty even though rural areas showed growth in the post-reform period.

The second conclusion is that in the post-reform period, poverty declined faster in the 2000s than in the 1990s. The official estimates based on Tendulkar committee’s poverty lines shows that poverty declined only 0.74 percentage points per annum during 1993-94 to 2004-05. But poverty declined by 2.2 percentage points per annum during 2004-05 to 2011-12. Around 138 million people were lifted above the poverty line during this period. This indicates the success of reforms in reducing poverty. The poverty of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes also declined faster in the 2000s. The Rangarajan committee report also showed faster reduction in poverty during 2009-10 to 2011-12. Higher economic growth, agriculture growth, rural non-farm employment, increase in real wages for rural labourers, employment in construction and programmes like the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) contributed to higher poverty reduction in the 2000s compared to the 1990s.

Another issue discussed all over the world, whether it is the Arab Spring or Brexit, is rising inequality. According to a Credit Suisse report, the richest 1% owns half of all the wealth in the world. What happened to inequality in post-reform period India? The evidence shows that inequality increased in this period. The Gini coefficient measured in terms of consumption for rural India increased marginally from 0.29 in 1993-94 to 0.31 in 2011-12. There was a significant rise in the Gini coefficient for urban areas from 0.34 to 0.39 during the same period. However, consumption-based Gini underestimates inequality. If we use income data from the National Council of Applied Economic Research’s India Human Development Survey, the Gini coefficient in income (rural+urban) was 0.52 in 2004-05 and increased to 0.55 in 2011-12. In other words, inequality is much higher in India if we use income rather than consumption. If we consider non-income indicators like health and education, inequalities between the poor and rich are much higher.

What is the way forward? The conclusion is that poverty declined faster but inequality increased in the post-reform period. However, India still has 300 million people below the poverty line. What should be done to reduce poverty and inequality?

Policymakers must continue to follow the two-fold strategy of achieving high economic growth and direct measures through social protection programmes. The focus should also be on increase in urban growth and income as the share of urban poverty will rise with urbanization.

There can be several solutions, but let’s focus here on the two important measures: creating productive employment and providing quality education for reduction in poverty and inequality. There is a feeling that we should have some flagship programmes like MGNREGA to reduce poverty. No doubt these programmes are important for protecting the poor. But equitable growth is much broader than this and productive inclusion in terms of generating quality employment should be the focus of any inclusive approach. Employment focus is the major part of equity approach. Studies have shown that agricultural growth leads to reduction in poverty twice as that of non-agriculture. We need more diversified agriculture for raising the income of farmers. However, future employment has to be created in manufacturing and service. In this context, the Make in India initiative, focus on start-ups, Mudra, financial inclusion, etc., are steps in the right direction. Equally, service sector employment has to be promoted. Over time, the share of the organized sector has to be raised while simultaneously improving productivity in the unorganized sector. Youth unemployment is high. This is one reason for unrest and social tensions. The need for skill development and productive jobs to reap the demographic dividend is obvious.

For reducing inequality, some advocate measures such as redistribution of assets and wealth in favour of the poor via higher taxes for the rich. However, these may not be pragmatic solutions. The tax/GDP ratio has to be raised with a wider tax base. Fiscal instruments like public investment in physical and social infrastructure can be used to reduce inequality. The new generation wants equality of opportunity rather than redistributive measures. Everyone irrespective of caste, class and gender should have equal opportunities in education, health, employment and entrepreneurship. Economic and employment opportunities improve with education and skills. The new generation wants better quality in schools and higher education.

Finally, economic reforms should focus more on efficient delivery systems of public services. Many reckon that poor governance is the biggest constraint in achieving the aspirations of a new generation and reduction in poverty and inequality. A major institutional challenge is the accountability of service providers, particularly the public sector. Recent literature also focused on eradication of corruption for reduction in inequalities. Issues like electoral reforms, crony capitalism, election funding and corruption should be part of the reform agenda to reduce inequalities.

 

S. Mahendra Dev is director and vice-chancellor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai.

 

By           :               S. Mahendra Dev

Date       :               July 26, 2016

Source    :               http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/Mr2DS2Qv4ika8zEuScxN1L/Poverty-and-inequality-after-reforms.html

Posted in Latest Post, Social and Economic Inequalities | Leave a comment
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