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 provides students with an introduction to major economic theories of labor markets, employment and unemployment and will examine the extent to which these theories are borne out by both statistical and qualitative studies of labor in the United States, a major capitalist economy. We will use a variety of methods in our study: statistical and graphical summaries of economic and social indicators; ethnographic descriptions of work in the factories, offices, laboratories, and hospitals of the modern economy; historical narratives about the development and transformation of labor in the United States; and economic arguments based on principles of social or individual behavior. Our analytical tools will include statistical methods, race, gender and class analysis as well as the analytical tools of neoclassical economics. Labor issues such as the growth of part-time/flexible employment; low wages, unemployment, gender and racial discrimination, wage and income inequality and unpaid labor will be discussed along with debates around minimum wages, immigration and labor unions.
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 three decades or so. 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? 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, promoting equal opportunity, fighting discrimination in the workplace, and securing greater control over working hours and conditions?
The last three decades have seen the rapid integration of markets across national borders. This has been accompanied by dramatic changes in the organization of production and in employment conditions. In both high- and low-income countries, these processes have led to profound changes in the distribution and location of women's work. This course focuses on the nature of labor market transformations that have resulted from economic restructuring, neoliberal policies and reorganization of production in both high and low income countries during the past three decades, and their significance for women workers. The course takes a comparative perspective that 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 does the 'feminization' of the labor force mean? What are the main trends leading to labor market informalization? What are the implications of these trends? Can we generalize across countries? What are the gender dimensions of these processes? Is there a role for government policy, international labor standards, as well as social and political activism across borders in raising wages, promoting equal opportunity, fighting discrimination in the workplace, and securing greater control over working hours and conditions?
Feminist Economics critically analyzes both economic theory and economic life through the lens of gender and advocates various forms of feminist economic transformation. But is there a need for a feminist economics, and if so, why? How is it different from mainstream economic analyses of gender inequality? What does a feminist vision of an alternative economic system look like? This course explores these questions in depth. The class will begin with a theoretical and empirical introduction to the goals and concerns of feminist economics. Students will be introduced to mainstream economic explanations of gender inequality, and to feminist critiques of these. We will then embark on an in-depth exploration of feminist economic theory, methodology, applications and policy prescriptions, and feminist visions of an alternative economic system. The course will cover topics such as sex discrimination in labor markets, the economics of the household, caring labor, and the solidarity economy.
The rapid integration of global markets that has taken place since the 1980s is the outcome of a common set of macroeconomic policies implemented in both developed and developing countries. This course examines the often contradictory impacts of these policies on gender relations in developing countries and asks: what challenges do global economic trends pose for gender equality and equity in developing countries? To answer this question, we will begin 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, in the context of a globalizing world economy. Special topics will include the household as a unit of analysis; women's unpaid labor, the gendered impacts of economic restructuring and economic crisis; the feminization of migration flows and the global labor force in the formal and informal sectors. The course will conclude with an evaluation of tools and strategies for achieving gender equity within the context of a sustainable, human-centered approach to economic development.
Economic ideas and the policies that are informed by these ideas exert a major influence on many aspects of our lives. But where do economic ideas come from? This course explores the ideas of a selection of influential economists over the centuries and the social forces that shaped their thinking. A central goal of the course is to track the ways in which economic thought has developed historically both as a response to inadequacies of previous theory and as a reflection of new economic problems emerging as economies and societies evolve over time. A frequently recurring theme in the course is the question of whether capitalism is a social system that conduces toward social harmony or 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 the individual, choice, and consumption. Major thinkers covered include Adam Smith, Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, the early Marginalists, Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes and contemporary heterodox thinkers.