Living Wages, Equal Wages: Gender and Labour Market Policies in the United States: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Living Wages, Equal Wages: Gender and Labour Market Policies in the United States

1st Edition

By Deborah M. Figart, Ellen Mutari, Marilyn Power


272 pages

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Paperback: 9780415273916
pub: 2002-05-23
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Wage setting has historically been a deeply political and cultural as well as economic process. This informative and accessible book explores how US wage regulations in the twentieth century took gender, race-ethnicity and class into account. Focusing on social reform movements for living wages and equal wages, it offers an interdisciplinary account of how women's work and the remuneration for that work has changed along with the massive transformations in the economy and family structures.

The controversial issue of establishing living wages for all workers makes this book both a timely and indispensable contribution to this wide ranging debate, and it will surely become required reading for anyone with an interest in modern economic issues.


'This book addresses an issue that is particularly timely after years of growing income inequality and draconian decreases in welfare support for single mothers which is likely to work increasing hardship as unemployment rises. The authors deserve credit for making it clear throughout that their concern is not so much with economics, as practised by neoclassical economists, as with political economy. The difference, as they make clear, is that the former takes full cognizance of the importance of social conditions and government policies, not merely market forces, in determining wages. This is an important lesson for an economics profession that has tended to resist any efforts to improve upon a wage structure that rewards some with riches beyond the dreams of avarice and leaves others destitute.' - Marianne Ferber, Professor Emerita, University of Illinois, USA

'Moving from early twentieth-century struggles over minimum wages for both the woman worker and male breadwinner and post-World War II attempts at equal pay through job evaluation and legislation onto recent battles for comparable worth and the living wage, Figart, Mutari, and Power unmask wage setting as a central vehicle for institutionalizing gender and race inequality in the United States. Their focus on the wage as a living, as a price, and as a social practice demistifies the labor market process at a time when employment has replaced income assistance as the goal of welfare policy. Full of theoretical sophistication and historical insight, Living Wages, Equal Wages is feminist political economy at its best.' - Eileen Boris, Hull Professor of Women's Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

'This well-written book should be adopted in a variety of classes … Figart, Mutari, and Power … are very convincing that a feminist wage determination scenario must use wages not only as a price but also as a living and as a social practice for a satisfactory explanation of industrial working conditions of men and women.' - David H. Ciscel, Journal of Economic Issues

About the Series

Routledge IAFFE Advances in Feminist Economics

The International Association for Feminist Economics (IAFFE) aims to increase the visibility and range of economic research on gender; facilitate communication among scholars, policymakers, and activists concerned with women's wellbeing and empowerment; promote discussions among policy makers about interventions which serve women's needs; educate economists, policymakers, and the general public about feminist perspectives on economic issues; foster feminist evaluations of economics as a discipline; expose the gender blindness characteristic of much social science and the ways in which this impoverishes all research - even research that does not explicitly concern women’s issues; help expand opportunities for women, especially women from underrepresented groups, within economics; and, encourage the inclusion of feminist perspectives in the teaching of economics.

The IAFFE book series pursues the aims of the organization by providing a forum in which scholars have space to develop their ideas at length and in detail. The series exemplifies the value of feminist research and the high standard of IAFFE-sponsored scholarship.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General