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Professor Susan Himmelweit

Profile summary

Professional biography


B.A. (Cantab), PhD (Cantab)

Research interests

The inequalities within households, the economics of caring, feminist economics and the gender implications of economic policy.

Inequalities within Households

I am currently engaged with my colleagues Dr Jerome De Henau and Dr Cristina Santos in an ESRC funded research project entitled Gender and intra-household entitlements. A cross-national longitudinal analysis (GenIX). This project aims to understand the factors that influence the benefits individuals to household resources. We are conducting this study cross-nationally to explore the effect of socio-economic, cultural and policy differences.

The GenIX project arose out of a previous project on 'Within Household Inequalities and Public Policy' that formed part of the ESRC funded Gender Equality Network. Conducted jointly with Fran Bennett (Oxford University) and Holly Sutherland (Essex University), this collaborative mixed-methods research project examined the impact of policy changes on behaviour and distribution within households.

The Economics of Caring

I am also interested in various aspects of the economics of caring, including the macroeconomics of caring, caring as a distinctive relational labour process and explanations of caring behaviour at the micro-level. Much of my work is on how to theorise care within an economic framework, but I also work on care policy.

I am a member of Political and Social Economy of Care in a Globalising World (PASEC), an international network on care policy, which has been examining the effects of markets and migration on care policies and practices, and the Nordic Network for Research on Marketisation in Eldercare (NorMaCare).

Nationally I have, jointly with Prof Hilary Land (Bristol University), carried out studies on care policy, with respect to both child and elder care, for the trade union Unison, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Equal Opportunities Commission.

I worked with Dr Maria Sigala on an ESRC funded a project on "The Determinants of Caring Behaviour" (funded as part of the ESRC's research programme on The Future of Work) examining the factors influencing the choices that mothers of small children make about employment and childcare.

Feminist Economics

I am a feminist economist, working with many others on developing a non-gender-blind approach to economics. I am an active member of the International Association for Feminist Economics and was its President in 2009. I was an Associate Editor of its journal Feminist Economics from 1996 to 2012 and jointly guest edited two Special issues on Children and Family Policy, vol. 6, no. 1, March 2000, with Nancy Folbre, and on Lone Mothers vol. 10, no. 2, July 2004, with Randy Albelda and Jane Humphries. I am on the editorial board of the Journal of Women, Politics and Policy.

The Gender Implications of Economic Policy

I am also involved in the gender analysis of budgets and in investigating the gender implications of economic policy, particularly the effects of tax and benefit policies on households and individuals within them, and on the balance between unpaid caring work and employment. I am part of an international movement to promote Gender Budgeting, the incorporation of gender impact considerations into the development of national and local budgets.

In the UK, I am the co-ordinator of the Policy Advisory Group and was the founding chair of the Women's Budget Group, a think tank that monitors, comments and advises on the gender implications of the government's social and economic policies. I have been consulted by the Treasury, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills on policy issues concerning welfare reform, lone-parents, maternity and parental leave, childcare and work-life balance, and have given evidence to a number of policy committees and commissions. I am on two advisory groups for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, one on Working Better and the other on Making Fair Financial Decisions.

De Henau, J. and Himmelweit, S., (in press) 'Unpacking within household gender differences in partners' subjective benefits from household income'. Journal of Marriage and Family.

Himmelweit, S., Santos C., Sevilla, A. and Sofer C. (in press) 'Sharing of resources within the family and the economics of household decision-making'. Journal of Marriage and Family (in press).

De Henau, J. and Himmelweit, S., (in press) 'Comparing welfare regimes by their effects on intra-household inequalities' (with Jérôme De Henau) in Ferri, M. and Monsonis-Paya, I. eds. Sustainability and transformation in European Social Policy, Peter Lang.

Himmelweit, S. (2013) 'Care: feminist economic theory and policy challenges' Journal of Gender Studies Ochanomizu University, 16.

Brennan D., Cass, B. Himmelweit, S. and Szebehely, M.(2012) 'The Marketisation of Care: Rationales and Consequences in Nordic and Liberal Care Regimes' (with Deborah Brennan, Bettina Cass and Marta Szebehely), Journal of European Social Policy, 22(4): pp. 377–391

Bennett, F., De Henau J. Himmelweit, S. and Sung, S. (2012) 'Financial togetherness and autonomy within couples' in J. Scott, S. Dex and A. Plagnol (eds), Gendered Lives: Gender Inequalities in Production and Reproduction: New York: Edward Elgar

Himmelweit, S. and Land, H. (2011) 'Reducing gender inequalities to create a sustainable care system' Kurswechsel, 4 pp. 49–63

Annesley, C. and Himmelweit, S. (2011) 'Women' in Yeates, N., Haux, T., Jawad, R. and Kilkey, M. (eds). In defence of welfare: the impacts of the spending review. The Social Policy Association: 19–21.

De Henau, J. Himmelweit, S. and Santos, C. (2010) "Gender Equality and Taxation: A UK case Study" in C. Grown and I. Valodia (eds) Taxation and Gender Equity: A Comparative Analysis of Direct and Indirect Taxes in Developing and Developed Countries, Abingdon: Routledge International Studies in Money and Banking: 261–298.

Himmelweit, S. and Land, H. (2010) Who cares, who pays: A report on personalisation in social care prepared for UNISON, London: Unison

Himmelweit, S. and Land, H. (2008) Reducing gender inequalities to create a sustainable care system Joseph Rowntree Foundation Viewpoint Ref: 2293.

Himmelweit, S. (2008) "Policy on Care: a help or hindrance to gender inequality" in J. Scott, S. Dex and H. Joshi (eds) Women and Employment: Changing Lives and New Challenges, Cheltenham and Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar: 347–368.

Himmelweit, S. (2007) 'The Right to Request Flexible Working; A 'very British' approach to gender (in)equality' Australian Bulletin of Labour 33(2): 246–263

Himmelweit, S. (2007) 'The Prospects for Caring: economic theory and policy analysis' Cambridge Journal of Economics 31(4): 581–599

Himmelweit, S. and Land, H. (2007) Supporting Parents and Carers, EOC Working paper series 63, Manchester: Equal Opportunities Commission

A. Bertie, S. Himmelweit and A.B.Trigg (2006) "Social Norms, Cognitive Dissonance and Broadcasting: How to influence Economic Agents" in C. Bruun (ed.) Advances in Artificial Economics: the Economy as a Complex Dynamic System, Springer Verlag: 235–252

Himmelweit, S. (2006) 'Feminism and Economics' Soundings 33: 151–162

Himmelweit, S. (2005) 'Caring: The need for an economic strategy' Public Policy Research 12(3): 168–173

Himmelweit, S. (2005) 'Making Policy Makers More Gender Aware' Women, Politics and Policy, 27(1/2):109–121 (reprinted in Hartmann, H. ed. Gendering politics and policy: recent developments in Europe, Latin America, and the United States. USA: Haworth Press Inc.(2006) 101–121.)

Himmelweit, S. and Sigala, M. (2004) 'Choice and the relationship between identities and behaviour for mothers with pre-school children: Some implications for policy from a UK study' (with Maria Sigala) Journal of Social Policy 33(3), July; pp.455–478

Albelda, R. Bergmann, B., Green, K., Himmelweit, S. Koren, C. and the Women's Committee of One Hundred (2004) 'Lone Mothers: What is to be Done?' Feminist Economics 10(2), July; pp.237–264

Albelda, R., Himmelweit, S. and Humphries, J. (2004) 'The Dilemmas of Lone Motherhood: Key Issues for Feminist Economics' (with, Feminist Economics 10(2), July, pp.1–7

S. Himmelweit (2003) "An Evolutionary Approach to Caring" in Barker, D. & Kuiper, E. (eds.), Towards a Feminist Philosophy of Economics. An Anthology, Routledge (Francis & Taylor), London, 2003: 247–265

Himmelweit, S. (2002) 'Economic theory, norms and the care gap, or :why do economists become parents?' in Alan Carling, Simon Duncan and Rosalind Edwards (eds.), Analysing families: Morality and Rationality in Policy and Practice, Routledge, London, pp.231–250

Himmelweit, S. (2002) 'Tools for Budget Impact analysis: taxes and benefits', in K. Judd (ed), Gender Budget Initiatives: strategies, Concepts and experiences, United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), New York, pp. 62–69.

Himmelweit, S. (2002) 'Making Visible the Hidden Economy: the Case for Gender-impact Analysis of Economic Policy', Feminist Economics 8(1), March, pp. 49–70.

A repository of research publications and other research outputs can be viewed at The Open University's Open Research Online.

Teaching interests

I am currently working on the new Level 2 economic course Running the economy (DD209) with first presentation in October 2013. Recently, I have worked on the Level 3 economics course Doing economics: people, markets and policy (DD309) and on You and your money: personal finance in context (DB123), a Level 1 introductory social sciences module, for which I wrote a chapter on 'Caring and Sharing'.