Can Women “Have It All?” Study Looks at Gender Equality in the Workplace and Happiness at Home

Mihaela Pintea, associate professor of economics at Florida International University in Miami, recently published a study that looks at the relationship between female labor force participation, the gender wage gap, and happiness.

Her paper’s focus is on married women who can choose between staying at home or being part of the labor force. Due to cultural norms and personal preferences, women vary in their valuation of the ability to stay at home, and that happiness is affected by status concerns, or what is commonly referred to as “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Dr. Pintea concludes that an increase in female happiness along with an increase in female participation in the labor force can come from a more comprehensive set of policies that involve men’s more active participation in the household, along with cultural shifts in how society values men and women’s contribution to both the home and work.

Dr. Pintea acknowledges the difficulty of such widespread change. However, she says, “as a macroeconomist, I look at aggregate trends. Change is happening in that direction now. We are making it more financially rewarding for women to enter the workforce, and we are slowly eroding the norms that prevent them from doing it.”

A native of Romania, Dr. Pintea joined the faculty at Florida International University in 2004. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington.

The full study, “Dynamics of Female Labor Force Participation and Welfare with Multiple Social Reference Groups,” may be downloaded by clicking here.

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