Women in conference room

How do women fare in the labor market in developing countries? How do hormones affect risk taking? How does fertility affect women’s workforce participation? Questions like these are new to the study of economics, but two CU Denver faculty members just helped release the first graduate-level book on the topic.

Laura Argys, PhD
Laura Argys, PhD, professor of economics

Laura Argys, PhD, professor of economics and associate dean for research, and Saul Hoffman, PhD, visiting professor of economics, were two of the three editors of the new “Oxford Handbook of Women and the Economy.” The “Oxford Handbook” series is a well-known, highly-regarded series of graduate-level books that summarize state-of-the-art research in a given field. In this case, the field is so new that the book will be the first of its kind.

“I was amazed that a book like this hadn’t already been written,” said Argys. “It provides important insights into current social- and policy-relevant issues.”

50 authors, 900 pages

The book’s editors spent three years completing the 900-page volume. First, they decided what the book should include and then commissioned 50 authors from all over the world to write 31 chapters about those topics. Then they edited the chapters and wrote an introduction and conclusion. The book was published in June 2018.

The three had collaborated on projects before. Hoffman and CU Boulder alumna Susan Averett had written a popular textbook on the topic together, and Argys and Averett were longtime collaborators. So, the three submitted a proposal and were commissioned by Oxford to create a comprehensive guide to women and the economy.

In addition to the two editors, another Associate Professor of Economics Hani Mansour wrote a chapter for the book.

“This is an area that’s really on the frontier of economics,” said Hoffman. “It’s changed so much, so there’s so much to bring together both in terms of statistics and data, as well as different kinds of analysis.”

A go-to resource

The book covers a huge range of topics related to women in the economy, and each issue is discussed for women in both the developing and developed worlds. It also emphasizes new research techniques in labor economy and economic demography.

Saul Hoffman, PhD
Saul Hoffman, PhD, visiting professor of economics

The first major section covers marriage and fertility, discussing how women’s contributions in the economy are affected by family responsibilities and examining factors like at what age women marry, when they have children and whom they marry.

The second section discusses the labor market and how education, chosen occupation and employment structure affects women’s labor participation. The final section covers more eclectic topics, such as policies and unique ways in which women and the economy interact. Some of these topics are extremely new topics of research, such as how hormonal differences affect risk taking.

“It’s the kind of book every library has as a reference,” Hoffman said. “We really hope that it will contribute to defining the field and providing a lot of information about this wonderful area of research.”

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