Monday, June 13, 2016

Gender equality in times of inequality, crisis and austerity 2/5

Contemporary Europe is emerging slowly and unevenly from the deepest recession ever recorded. Following a coordinated and expansionary response to the crisis in 2008, member states experienced a sovereign debt crisis and subsequently, from 2010 - simultaneously yet without collective coordination - embarked on austerity policies to reduce the size of the public sector deficit and debt (Bettio et al 2012). 

To meet the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact’s conditions (SPG), the public sector deficit can be no more than 3% and public debt no greater than 60% of GDP. By 2013, ten member states were still above the deficit guidelines and 16 above those for debt. Potentially of greater potential concern is that public debt is rising in all but two of the countries where it exceeds 60% of GDP (Germany and Hungary), as it is for the EU as a whole (Eurostat, 2014). 

Thus, while the deficit is falling, public debt continues to rise and for this reason austerity policies continue to dominate the policy agenda even though feminist and heterodox economists (Fukuda Parr et al., 2013; Stiglitz, 2012) have demonstrated they are counterproductive for the economy. Such policies also make it very difficult to secure social objectives for inclusion and gender equality. 

 By Diane Perrons

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