Assistant Professor of Economics
Pickbourn teaches courses on gender and economic development, feminist political economy and the history of economic thought. Prior to coming to Hampshire college, she was an assistant professor of economics at Keene State College in New Hampshire.
Pickbourn's fields of specialization are in Economic Development and Feminist Economics, with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Her dissertation research examined the role of gendered social norms in shaping migration and remittance behavior, a topic on which she carried out field research in rural communities in Northern Ghana for a year. Her other interests include the structural and institutional determinants of employment and earnings in the informal economy in developing countries, and the impact of foreign aid on gender equality in health and education outcomes in sub-Saharan African countries.
Pickbourn has been the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships, including a research fellowship from the American Association of University Women and a Women's Studies dissertation fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.
This course examines the often contradictory impacts of economic development on gender relations in developing countries. The course begins with an introduction to alternative approaches to economics and to economic development, focusing on the differences between neoclassical and feminist economics. We will then go on to examine and critique the theoretical frameworks that have shaped the gender perspective in economic development. This will be followed by an exploration of the impacts of economic development policy on men and women and on gender relations in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Special topics will include the household as a unit of analysis; women's unpaid labor, the gendered impacts of economic restructuring and economic crisis; post-conflict reconstruction; microcredit; agriculture and agricultural policy; the feminization of the labor force in the formal and informal sectors of the global economy.
The central goal of this course is to track the ways in which Western economic thought has developed historically both as a response to inadequacies of previous theory and as a reflection of new economic problems that emerge as economies and societies evolve over time. The focus will be on (a) classical political economy and its critiques; (b) the marginalist revolution; (c) institutionalist economics; (d) the Keynesian revolution and (e) contemporary theory. Major groups and thinkers covered include Adam Smith, Thomas Robert Malthus, Karl Marx, the early Marginalists, the Neoclassicals, Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes and contemporary heterodox thinkers. A frequently recurring theme in the course is the issue of whether the capitalist economic system produces social harmony or social conflict. Other persistent themes include debates over the inherent stability or instability of capitalism, the reasons for income inequality and poverty, and the economic analysis of individual behavior. This course is designed to help you further develop your reading, writing, and critical thinking skills by exploring the ideas of these theorists. The focus on comparative theory that we adopt in this class will compel us to grapple with the complexity of economic theorizing, as well as sharpen our abilities to think critically.
This course focuses on the labor market transformations that have resulted from economic restructuring informed by neoliberal policies and the reorganization of production in both high and low income countries over the last four decades or so. The course analyzes the gendered dimensions of these processes, points out the contradictory tendencies at work and emphasizes the shared concerns of workers across the globe. Among the questions that will be addressed in the course are the following: what repercussions have these changes in the structure of production in the world economy had on employment dynamics in high- and low-income countries? What does the feminization of the labor force mean, and how is it different from the feminization of labor? What are the main trends leading to labor market informalization? What are the gendered implications of these trends for people who must work for a living? Can we generalize across countries? Is there a role for government policy, international labor standards, as well as social and political activism across borders in raising wages and incomes, fighting discrimination in the workplace, securing greater control over working hours and conditions and achieving economic security, for all those who must work for a living?
This course will examine the evolution of African economies in the post-independence era and their current position in the global economy. The course will begin with a brief overview of Africa in the pre-colonial and colonial period. The topics covered include the search for alternative economic systems in the post-independence period; the economic crisis of the 1970s and 1980s; the impact of structural adjustment policies in the 1990s; debates over the role of the state and governance in the continent's economic development, the resurgence of economic growth in Africa; the relationship between China and Africa; the role of foreign aid,trade, investment and migration and prospects for the future.