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Index of Volumes

VOLUME 138, NUMBER 3 1999/3




Women and equality: The capabilities approach


Human dignity, involving the idea of equal worth, is the starting point in Nussbaum's cross-cultural application of the capabilities approach to the question of equality. As a formulation of the objective it transcends the conventional criteria of preference satisfaction and resource allocation. Focusing on what fully human beings are able to be and to do, she suggests a set of distinct human functional capabilities to guide political planning. While each component helps to define the quality of life, the capability for practical reason and affiliation suffuse the others, for they help to define what it is to be truly human.

Affirmative action in employment: Recent court approaches to a difficult concept


Ever since its introduction, affirmative action to combat discrimination based on race or sex has attracted controversy over its validity, allegedly unfair, perverse or stigmatizing effects, and over whether the available evidence is conclusive. The author examines major decisions taken in the late 1990s in the United States, South Africa and by the European Court of Justice, in which the courts, faced with similar factual situations, reached different conclusions. She suggests explanations for these differences and argues that more rigorous reasoning by lower jurisdictions and new international standards might enable courts to reach just and realistic decisions.

Gender issues in labour statistics


The process of producing labour statistics inevitably simplifies reality, highlighting certain aspects and ignoring others, depending on the priorities and objectives involved and the data collection methods available. The author presents the main features needed for labour statistics to reflect fully and in all their diversity the respective situations of women and men in the labour market. She identifies the topics needing to be covered and the detail required for significant distinctions to emerge, and explains how the choice of measurement method and the manner of data presentation can influence the final result.

The enduring debate over unpaid labour


Debate over the measurement of unpaid work - and hence over the underestimation of women's work in labour force and national accounting statistics - is not new. The author summarizes the main theoretical and practical issues addressed over many years, and describes the progress made on conceptual, theoretical and methodological aspects of the question, as well as new issues. And she responds to three types of continuing critique: that the efforts make no useful impact; that unpaid work is qualitatively different from market work and should not be treated in the same way; and that the efforts are theoretically misguided.

Assigning care: Gender norms and economic outcomes

M. V. Lee BADGETT and Nancy FOLBRE

In societies that link femaleness to familial altruism, women tend to be disproportionately represented in caring occupations. This reinforces occupational segregation, sex-based pay differentials and the very norms that dictate appropriate behaviour for women and men. The authors= research on the interaction between marriage markets and labour markets shows another reason why such gender norms are resistant to change. Their analysis of the relationship between caring labour, social norms and economic outcomes leads them to advocate not only reassigning responsibilities for care, but specific measures to protect caring work, including strict quality standards on the provision of marketed care.



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Updated by MCN. Approved by MFL. Last update: 14 February 2000.