Research

Current Research

Gender and Cross-National Income Tax Payment Patterns

Abstract:

Gender difference in taxation is generally understudied, despite the implications tax policies have on various types of gender inequality. Within this small literature, studies have established the negative impact of joint tax filing paired with progressivity and high marginal tax rates on coupled women’s labor force participation. Less work has explored how progressivity might reduce gender inequality in post-tax income by placing a greater tax burden on men. To address this gap, the most recent wave of data from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Database on single income earners in 27 countries were used. Results indicate that progressivity is associated with higher effective tax rates for men relative to women. Highly progressive countries also show the greatest increases in men’s tax rates in response to gender income gaps, while low progressivity countries do not show increases in tax rates paid by men in response to higher gender income gaps. Finally, progressive taxation and high tax rates are associated with greater reduction in post-tax gender income gaps. This suggests tax progressivity can be a tool for producing more gender-equal income distributions post-tax. Paired with previous research, these results indicate that countries seeking gender equity in taxation should prioritize both progressive taxation and individual tax filing for men and women. Such filing arrangements ensure progressive taxation can support gender equality without also discouraging labor force participation for coupled women.

Gender Equality, Instrumentalized Empowerment, and Decoupling in World Bank Discourse and Project Implementation

Abstract:

This paper merges literature on world polity theory with feminist writings on altered understandings of women’s empowerment. Combined, these literatures explain several disconnects between grassroots feminist notions of empowerment, discourse on gender equality and empowerment by hegemonic development actors, and support for gender equality “on the ground.” Coding the World Bank Group’s gender strategy for 2016-2023 and corresponding Project Information Descriptions (PID), as well as spatial analysis of projects locations compared to the Gender Development Index reveals a decoupling of policy from action. Despite policies and strategies devoted to gender equality, the World Bank invests minimally in projects with a deep focus on women. When projects do focus on women, they promote instrumentalized empowerment in the form of market-oriented livelihood strategies, rather than the relational process of challenging power imbalances promoted by some grassroots feminists. Further, the decoupling of policy from action predicted by world polity theory is also reflected in a partial spatial disconnect between the location of projects and the need for empowerment interventions. These results not only link two bodies of literature, but also reveal an area of intervention for feminists concerned with how livelihood interventions might need to be balanced with relational empowerment. Specifically, there is a need for greater advocacy to address decoupling and better align development interventions toward achieving gender equality and the non-instrumentalized empowerment of women and girls.

Gender and Economic Impacts of COVID in Sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract

While the COVID-19 pandemic has been less deadly in Africa than other contexts, the high level of existing precarity means consequences were still severe, especially in terms of disruptions to livelihoods activities. A small but growing body of literature has documented gendered differences in these consequences. This study contributes to this line of research by exploring the extent to which COVID-19 restrictions had a different effect on men and women’s employment, food insecurity, and loss of business income in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda. To capture the degree of COVID-19 public health restrictions, we used the Stringency Index from the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. We combined this measure with variables on economic status and personal and household characteristics from the World Bank’s High-Frequency Phone Surveys on COVID-19. Our study finds that, across the five countries, COVID-19 restrictions were associated with negative outcomes - lower probability of employment and higher probability of food insecurity and loss of business income. However, the effect of the stringency index on these outcomes was the same for men and women. Thus, unlike in rich countries, the ongoing economic precarity of families in sub-Saharan Africa may have meant women could not scale back paid work to accommodate changes in care work burdens. Paired with existing research, this suggests women experienced a more intense double burden of continuing to maintain (or resume) income generating activities while adapting to increased unpaid labor from having family members home instead of at work and school. This research leveraged the stringency index in a unique gendered analysis of the consequences of COVID-19 related public health responses in low-income settings. In doing so, we contribute a gender lens to a growing body of research on the consequences of COVID-19 on key development outcomes.

Past Research

Presentations

Richards-Melamdir, Morgan. 2022. “Gender and Economic Impacts of COVID in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Presented at the International Association for Feminist Economics Annual Conference.

Richards-Melamdir, Morgan. 2022. “Gender and Economic Impacts of COVID in Sub-Saharan Africa.” Presented at the Global Insight Summer Brown Bag Series.

Richards-Melamdir, Morgan. 2022. “Gender Equality, Instrumentalized Empowerment, and Decoupling in Livelihoods Strategies and World Bank Group Projects.” Presented at the Feminist Geographers Annual Meeting.

Richards-Melamdir, Morgan. 2021. “Can Progressive Taxation Address Gender Inequality in Income? Cross-National Evidence of Gender Differences in Income Tax Payment Patterns and Post-Tax Income.” Presented at the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality (ECINEQ) Ninth Meeting.

Richards-Melamdir, Morgan. 2021. “Can Progressive Taxation Address Gender Inequality in Income.” Presented at the International Association for Feminist Economics Annual Conference.

Richards-Melamdir, Morgan. 2021. “Gender Equality, Instrumentalized Empowerment, and Decoupling in Livelihoods Strategies and World Bank Group Projects. Presented at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting.

Richards-Melamdir, Morgan. 2021. “Gender Equality, Instrumentalized Empowerment, and Decoupling in World Bank Discourse and Project Implementation.” Presented at the 65th NGO Committee on the Status of Women part of the Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the UN.

Richards, Morgan and Kathleen Agaton. 2018. “How Homeless Shelters can Address Economic Drivers of Homelessness for Female-Headed Families.” Presented at the Pathways to Gender Equality Conference | Washington, D.C.

Ruddick, William, Morgan Richards and Jem Bendell. 2013. “Complementary Currencies for Sustainable Development in Kenya: The Case of Bangla-Pesa.” Presented at the 2nd International Conference on Complementary Currency Systems | Hague, Luxembourg.

Bass, Loretta E. and Morgan Richards. 2012. "What is Associated with Married Women’s Contraceptive Behavior in Ghana?" Poster presented at the Population Association of America Annual Meeting | San Francisco, CA.

Richards, Morgan, and Loretta E. Bass. 2011. “Gendered Power and the Use of Contraception and Condoms among Married Women in Ghana.” Presented at the International Conference on Family Planning: Research and Best Practices | Dakar, Senegal.