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Is Dismissing the Precautionary Principle the Manly Thing to Do? Gender and the Economics of Climate Change

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  • Julie A. Nelson

Abstract

Many public debates about climate change now focus on the economic "costs" of taking action. When called on to advise about these, many leading mainstream economists downplay the need for care and caution on climate issues, forecasting a future with infinitely continued economic growth. This essay highlights the roles of binary metaphors and cultural archetypes in creating the highly gendered, sexist, and age-ist attitudes that underlie this dominant advice. Gung-ho economic growth advocates aspire to the role of The Hero, rejecting the conservatism of The Old Wife. But in a world that is not actually as safe and predictable as they assume, the result is guidance from The Fool. Both intellectual and cultural change are necessary if the voice of The Wise Grandmother (which may come through women or men) is to—alongside The Hero—receive the attention it deserves.

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Paper provided by GDAE, Tufts University in its series GDAE Working Papers with number 12-04.

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Date of creation: Sep 2012
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Handle: RePEc:dae:daepap:12-04

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  1. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Are Women Really More Risk-Averse than Men?," GDAE Working Papers 12-05, GDAE, Tufts University.
  2. Dohmen Thomas & Falk Armin & Huffman David & Sunde Uwe & Schupp Jürgen & Wagner Gert G., 2009. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants and Behavioral Consequences," Research Memorandum 039, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
  3. Catherine C. Eckel & Philip J. Grossman, 2002. "Sex Differences and Statistical Stereotyping in Attitudes Toward Financial Risk," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-03, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  4. Curtis, Fred, 2003. "Eco-localism and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 83-102, August.
  5. Nelson, Julie A., 2006. "Economics for Humans," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226572024, October.
  6. Julie A. Nelson, 1995. "Feminism and Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 131-148, Spring.
  7. Nelson, J.A., 2013. "Ethics and the economist: What climate change demands of us," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 145-154.
  8. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2009. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence From a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1637-1664, 09.
  9. Nelson, Julie A., 2008. "Economists, value judgments, and climate change: A view from feminist economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 441-447, April.
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Cited by:
  1. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination," GDAE Working Papers 12-07, GDAE, Tufts University.
  2. Julie Nelson, 2012. "Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination," INET Research Notes 17, Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET).

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