Outside the Economy: Women’s Work and Feminist Economics in the Construction and Critique of National Income Accounting

TitleOutside the Economy: Women’s Work and Feminist Economics in the Construction and Critique of National Income Accounting
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsMessac, Luke
JournalJournal of Imperial & Commonwealth History
Volume46
Issue3
Pagination552 - 578
Date Published02/21/2018
Abstract

Concerns about women’s work were present at the advent of the modern method of national income accounting, and they have featured prominently in the most radical critiques of this method. During and after the Second World War, Phyllis Deane, a young researcher, grappled with the conceptual difficulties involved in measuring the ‘national’ incomes of mostly rural subsistence colonies in British central Africa. Her work was essentially an exercise in reductionism and bounding; she sought to extract from her data a single monetary estimate of production. Yet Deane also proved unwilling to exclude too much. She broke with her advisors’ favoured convention that activities not involved in market exchange should be excluded from the national income. Successive national income accountants around the world would reach disparate conclusions on method, particularly on the question of the ‘production boundary’—that is, the dividing line between those productive activities that would be included in the national income and those that would not.  This paper argues that feminist economists and women’s work were central to both the post-war construction and the late-twentieth century critique of national income.

URLhttps://doi.org/10.1080/03086534.2018.1431436
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