The State and Women in the Economy

Lessons from Sex Discrimination in the Republic of Ireland

By Jean Larson Pyle

Subjects: Women's Studies, Sociology Of Work
Series: SUNY series on Women and Work
Paperback : 9780791403808, 202 pages, October 1990
Hardcover : 9780791403792, 202 pages, November 1990

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Table of contents




1. Women in the Economy, the State and Development: An Overview


Expectations versus Reality in the Republic of Ireland
The Basic Lesson: Its Importance for the Labor Market Literature
The Relevance of the Main Insight for Development Literature
Further Implications


2. Economic Development and Women in Ireland, 1961-1981


Economic Development in Ireland, 1961-1981
Women's Participation in the Irish Labor Force, 1961-1981, in Comparison to Other Western European OECD Countries and Singapore


3. What Went Wrong? Possible Traditional and Feminist Explanations


Adverse Sectoral Change Explanations
Relative Wage Hypothesis
Job Scarcity Argument
Feminist Approach


4. The Role of the State


The Contradictory Goals of the State
Employment Policy
Family Law and Reproductive Rights Legislation


5. The Main Lesson of the Irish Case Examined at the Regional Level


Introduction: The Lesson of the Irish Case
Testing of the Traditional Approaches
Examination of the Alternative Approach
Reexamination of the Irish Explanation in Light of the Regional Analysis


6. Lessons for the Women in the Economy Literatures and Implications for the Theory of the State and Feminist Theory


Relevance for Labor Market and Development Literatures
Implications for the Theory of the State
Implications for Feminist Theory
The Social Structure of Patriarchy: An Alternative Feminist Approach



A. The Decomposition Analysis
B. Relative Wage Hypothesis
C. Components of the Change in Population in Ireland, 1901-1981
D. Vote Maximization Function
E. Other State Policies


Selected Bibliography



This book examines the effect of state policies on women's roles in the economy. At the most concrete level it investigates the relative lack of response of women's labor force activity rates to export-led development in the Republic of Ireland. At a broader level, it provides critical insights into current labor market debates regarding the causes of women's subordination and the efficacy of state policies designed to alleviate them.

The book shows how the state, in addition to and interactively with the workplace and household, can maintain gender inequality. In so doing, Pyle demonstrates the usefulness of a revitalized and broader structural approach to feminist analysis.

Jean Larson Pyle is Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Lowell.


"The topic, the constraints on labor force participation of women in Ireland, is significant in itself because Ireland departs so startlingly from experiences of women in the countries undergoing similar economic growth. The topic is also central to our overall understanding of the conditions which influence women's paid labor. The author contrasts her analysis with neoclassical economic literature, with conventional Marxist explanations, and also with feminist theories about the means by which women's subordination is perpetuated. " — Susan Lehrer, State University of New York at New Paltz