An Analysis of Alternative Ways of Measuring Women’s Economic Development Other than GDP
This paper will examine how economic development is measured among women around the world, particularly in developing countries, and how it relates, or does not relate, to the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of developing countries. Specifically, there is research that traditional economic measures of GDP and GNP do not include the vast among of contribution that women make in developing countries. The topic became of interest after viewing a film about the importance of measuring the progress of women and the health of women and how countries measure overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in terms of how well women are doing in developing countries. In addition, the topic became more relevant after coming across the following research from the International Center for Research on Women (2013):
Mounting evidence demonstrates that increases in women’s income lead to improvements in children’s health, nutrition and education. . . . women’s economic empowerment is critical for reducing poverty and achieving broader health and development objectives.
In wealthy countries like the United States, it is easy to make the assumption that women are given equal weight in society. However, women experience vast inequalities in developing countries, which was the subject of the film. The inequalities inhibit the overall GDP of developing countries, not to mention that they have negative impacts on both women and children, who the women raise, in developing countries. Therefore, it is important to understand how women’s contributions to GDP are measured. As a result of viewing this film about women in poor countries, reading this research conducted at the ICRW (2013), and studying how women are viewed by economists who study developing countries, an examination was conducted about how women’s income development is measured in terms of women’s contribution to the economics of a country. The results of the research are that there are various ways that economic development is measured in women, as an alternative to measures of GDP and GNP which may be biased for Western economics. These ways of measuring women’s contributions include Women in Development (WID), Women and Development (WAD, and Gender and Development (GAD). These concepts are important to economists because women play a significant role in contributing to the GDP of developing countries, whether the GDP measure is considered valid by economists or not. Consequently, the way women’s development is measured in economic terms has many implications for the quality of life for women in developing countries, in economic and political policy in developing countries, as well as in the way developing countries interact with less developed countries. Measuring Economic Health in Developing Countries:
Is GDP the Best Way?
Before examining the importance of how women contribute to a country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and how women’s contribution is measured, it is essential to understand what GDP is and why it is important to the health and welfare of developing countries. Peet & Hardwick (2009) present a criticism of Gross Domestic Product and Gross National Product (GNP) which is an interesting way of looking at how women’s contribution is often not included in these measures. Still, it is important to understand what these concepts mean before offering alternative ways to measure women’s contributions. First, Peet & Hardwick (2009) state that Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is “that part of production sold for a price in a formal market” (p. 10). Colander (2010) states that, compared to many countries, the United States has a low debt-to-GDP ratio (p. 418). However, this is not the case in developing countries. Gross Domestic Product is the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year (Colander,...
References: Colander, D. C. (2010). Macroeconomics, Eighth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill.
ICRW. (2013). Measuring the impact of women’s economic development programs. International Center for Research on Women. Retrieved from, http://www.icrw.org/where-we-work/measuring-impact-women%E2%80%99s-economic-development-programs
Peet, R., & Hartwick, E. R. (2009). Theories of development: contentions, arguments, alternatives. New York: Guilford Publication.
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