- Jefferson, T., Austen, S., Ong, R. and M. Haffner, 2017. “Housing Equity Withdrawal: Perceptions of Obstacles among Older Australian Home Owners and associated Service Providers.” Journal of Social Policy 46(3):623-643
Housing wealth dominates the asset portfolios of the older population in Australia and many other countries. Given the anticipated spike in fiscal costs associated with population ageing, there is growing policy interest in housing equity withdrawal (HEW) to finance living needs in retirement. This paper sheds light on homeowners’ perceptions of the obstacles associated with two forms of HEW: mortgage equity withdrawal (where the in situ home owner increases his/her housing-related debt) and downsizing (where housing equity is released by moving to a lower-valued property). We uncover a series of age-specific barriers impeding older Australians’ use of these forms of HEW through qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews conducted with home owners and professional service providers in related areas of policy and practice. To that end, we recommend the development of a range of safeguards that will minimise the risk exposure and other obstacles associated with HEW for older home owners.
- Austen, S. E., and A. Mavisakalyan, 2016.“Constitutions and the Political Agency of Women: A Cross-Country Study.”Feminist Economics 22 (1): 183-210
This article was selected for a special, World Bank sponsored edition of Feminist Economics on “Voice and Agency”. The article presents the results of an empirical study of the links between women’s representation in parliament and constitutional protection from gender-based discrimination. The results underscore the role of constitutional design in promoting women’s agency.
- Austen, Siobhan, Therese Jefferson, Gill Lewin, Rachel Ong and Rhonda Sharp, 2016 “Work ability, age and the intention to leave age care work” Australian Journal of Ageing 35(1):18-22.
This paper reports the results of an investigation, undertaken as part of the Missing Workers project, into the relationship between work ability, increased age and turnover intentions in the aged care workforce. The paper’s findings highlight that, compared to European nurses, Australian aged care workers have relatively high levels of work ability. However, work ability declines with age, especially amongst registered nurses, and it is a key source of turnover for community care workers and personal care assistants.
- Austen, Siobhan, Therese Jefferson, Gill Lewin, Rachel Ong and Rhonda Sharp, 2016 “Recognition: Applications in aged care work” Cambridge Journal of Economics Advance 40(4): 1037-1054.
This key paper from the Missing Workers project explores Adam Smith’s concept of recognition and considers the importance of recognition and misrecognition for a nuanced understanding of the motivation to undertake paid care work. Survey and interview data presented in the paper suggest that low wages convey misrecognition and that both wages and misrecognition have adverse implications for the future labour supply of aged care workers.
- Capezio, A., and A. Mavisakalyan, 2016 “Women in the boardroom and fraud: Evidence from Australia.”Australian Journal of Management 34. In press.
We examine the relationship between women’s representation on corporate boards and fraud. Drawing on a discussion of existing studies, we hypothesise that increasing women’s representation on boards can help mitigate fraud. We provide validation to our conjecture through an empirical analysis of 128 publicly listed companies in Australia. We show that the increase in women’s representation on company boards is associated with a decreased probability of fraud. We demonstrate the consistency of this result across different robustness checks. We believe that our findings could be of interest to policy makers interested in enhancing board governance and monitoring.
- Austen, Siobhan, 2016 “Gender Issues in an Ageing Society” Australian Economic Review 49 (4): 494-502
Many aspects of our ageing society are deeply gendered. The number of older women is substantially larger than the number of older men. Women are also more likely than men to live the latter part of their life without a spouse. Relatedly, they are more likely than men to be involved in caring for other ill or disabled older family members. This article examines how the combination of gender differences in life expectancy, marriage, care roles, workforce participation and current policy settings combine to produce gender inequality in old age. It identifies policy measures to redress this imbalance.
- Austen, S. E., R. Sharp, and H. Hodgson, 2015.“Gender impact analysis and the taxation of retirement savings in Australia.”Australian Tax Forum 30 (4): 763-781.
This article was an invited contribution to a special edition of the ATF to celebrate the anniversary of Australia’s Income Tax Assessment Act. The paper presents the arguments for a gender impact analysis of taxation, using the example of superannuation to demonstrate the inequity and inefficiency that emerges when gender impacts are not considered and countered.
- Austen, Siobhan and Therese Jefferson (2015) “Economic analysis, ideology and the public sphere: insights from Australia’s equal remuneration hearings” Cambridge Journal of Economics. For a special edition on ‘Equal Pay: Fair Pay? A Forty-year Perspective’. 39(2): 405-419.
This is paper explores contrasting economic analyses of gender and wages presented at the Australian equal remuneration hearings, which Siobhan participated in as an expert witness. It incorporates a discussion of the use mathematical methods and specialist techniques in economic analysis and argues that these can deflect attention from important assumptions and ideological commitments underlying economic analyses of gendered patterns of work and pay. Debate in the public sphere is identified as offering the potential to explain and discuss the methods and assumptions of economic analysis, and to better understand their social and policy implications.
- Austen, Siobhan, Therese Jefferson, Gill Lewin, Rachel Ong and Rhonda Sharp, 2015 “Care roles and the effect of economic circumstance” Journal of Industrial Relations. 57 (5): pp. 665-685.
A further output from the Missing Workers’ project, this paper examines the links between informal care roles and the turnover intention of mature age women in Australia’s aged care sector. The paper identifies important differences in the links between informal care roles and turnover intentions between women according to their economic circumstance. Women living in households with relatively low economic resources reduce their turnover intention when their informal care roles increase, reflecting the financial pressures associated with these roles and highlighting the importance of measures to enable women to maintain their paid work roles in the presence of other commitments.
- Mavisakalyan, A. 2015.“Gender in Language and Gender in Employment.”Oxford Development Studies 43 (4): 403-424.
Women lag behind men in many domains. Feminist scholars have proposed that sex-based grammatical systems in languages reinforce traditional conceptions of gender roles, which in turn contribute to disadvantaging women. This article evaluates the empirical plausibility of this claim in the context of women’s labour market outcomes. Based on a sample of over 100 countries, the analysis shows that places where the majority language is gender-intensive have lower participation of women in the labour force. Individual-level estimates further underscore this finding and indicate a higher prevalence of gender-discriminatory attitudes among speakers of gender-intensive languages.
Austen, S. (2018) “Labor Processes and Outcomes: An Institutional-Heterodox Framework” in Routledge Handbook of Heterodox Economics, edited by Tae-Hee Jo, Lynne Chester, and Carlo D’Ippoliti, Routledge, Chapter 25.
This chapter reviews recent developments in institutional economics that are potentially relevant to the future direction of studies of labor processes and outcomes. A key focus is the Institutional Analysis and Design (IAD) framework, which was devised by Elinor Ostrom and her colleagues to assist in the development of theories of human behavior in a diverse range of situations. Whilst the majority of previous discussions of Ostrom’s work have focused on her analysis of common pool environmental resources, this chapter examines the potential to make use of the IAD framework to guide the development of institutional-heterodox theories and empirical analyses of labor situations.
Austen, S. (2017) “Feminist Economics for Smart Behavioural Economists”, in Behavioral Economics with Smart People: Rational Decision-Making within the Bounds of Reason, edited by Morris Altman, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, Chapter 10.
Some prominent feminist economists have already identified the strategic potential to link new institutional economics, which is Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom’s field, with feminist theory. Concepts such as endogenous tastes and reciprocity, which feature in new institutional (and smart behavioral) analysis can be linked to feminist economic arguments about the gendered nature of economic behavior. However, many feminist economists contest other core concepts of new institutional and smart behavioral economics, such as the notion of boundedly rational economic agents, emphasising instead the emotional and subjective aspects of decision-making. Acknowledging these tensions, this chapter explores the potential connections between feminist, smart behavioral and new institutional economics. It draws on Ostrom’s IAD framework to identify key features of feminist economics, before turning to a discussion of the key research topics where the interests of feminist and smart behavioral economics appear to intersect. These include the presence (or otherwise) of differences in the preferences and behavior of men and women. The issue of (possible) differences in risk aversion is discussed in some detail, while the issue of altruistic preferences is also considered. The chapter concludes with a summary of the key themes of feminist economics and some recommendations for smart behavioral economic research.
Siobhan Austen, Rhonda Sharp, Therese Jefferson and Rachel Ong, 2017, “Missing mature women in Australia’s aged care sector”, in Burke, R. and Calvano, L., The Sandwich Generation: Caring for Oneself and Others at Home and at Work, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham
Therese Jefferson, Siobhan Austen, Rhonda Sharp, Rachel Ong, Valerie Adams and Gill Lewin, 2016 “A mixed methods approach to investigating the employment decisions of aged care workers in Australia”, in Lee, F. and Cronin, B., Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Heterodox Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham
This chapter describes the development and implementation of a mixed methods research project that was designed to investigate the characteristics and experience of women aged 45 and over working in the Australian aged care sector. The key issue of interest is whether these workers planned to remain in or leave employment in the sector. This study utilises an embedded mixed methods framework of enquiry, utilising secondary data from a large national survey, organisational employment data, purposefully collected survey data and semi structured interview data collection and analysis. This framework captures the potential of quantitative data to identify national patterns of mature age women’s employment, the employment decisions made by aged care workers at an organisational level and patterns of employment exit and retention by aged care workers at an industry level. Individual qualitative data provides insights into the experiences of the aged care workers within specific institutional contexts.
Senate Standing Committees on Economics 2015 ‘Achieving economic security for women in retirement’, Canberra
WiSER submission to the Senate Inquiry into Economic Security for Women in Retirement
The Work + Family Policy Roundtable, Work, Care & Family Policies – Election Benchmarks 2016, The Women + Work Research Group, Sydney
National Foundation for Australian Women 2016, A Gender Lens – Budget 2016-17, Canberra
The Work + Family Policy Roundtable, Submission to the Inquiry by the Senate Finance and Public Administration References Committee into gender segregation in the workplace and its impact on women’s economic equality
National Foundation for Australian Women 2017, A Gender Lens – Budget 2017-18, Canberra