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The Economics of Nursing: Articulating Care


  • Valerie Adams
  • Julie Nelson


Nurses in many industrialized countries are under pressure to prove that the care they provide is cost effective and an appropriate use of scarce healthcare funding. Attempts to describe what nursing care involves, however, have not yet resulted in a generally accepted articulation that is fully up to this task. This essay analyzes how Cartesian dualisms of mind versus body and knowledge versus virtue have contributed to the inadequacy of many current descriptions of nursing. The authors explore how a non-dualistic, practice-enhancing rhetoric might be developed, particularly in light of healthcare finance issues affecting college-educated nurses in the United States, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The authors present a diagram as a suggested tool for thinking that may help bring attention to neglected and undervalued aspects of nursing care. Special challenges in geriatric care are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Valerie Adams & Julie Nelson, 2009. "The Economics of Nursing: Articulating Care," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(4), pages 3-29.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:15:y:2009:i:4:p:3-29 DOI: 10.1080/13545700903153971

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Colander, 2005. "The Making of an Economist Redux," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 175-198, Winter.
    2. Colander, David, 2003. "The Aging of an Economist," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(02), pages 157-176, June.
    3. Kahn, Shulamit, 1993. "Gender Differences in Academic Career Paths of Economists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 52-56, May.
    4. Donna K. Ginther & Shulamit Kahn, 2004. "Women in Economics: Moving Up or Falling Off the Academic Career Ladder?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 193-214, Summer.
    5. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
    6. Uri Gneezy & Aldo Rustichini, 2004. "Gender and Competition at a Young Age," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 377-381, May.
    7. David Neumark & Rosella Gardecki, 1998. "Women Helping Women? Role Model and Mentoring Effects on Female Ph.D. Students in Economics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 220-246.
    8. McDowell, John M & Smith, Janet Kiholm, 1992. "The Effect of Gender-Sorting on Propensity to Coauthor: Implications for Academic Promotion," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(1), pages 68-82, January.
    9. John M. McDowell & Larry D. Singell & Mark Stater, 2006. "Two to Tango? Gender Differences in the Decisions to Publish and Coauthor," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 44(1), pages 153-168, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zohreh Emami, 2013. "Teaching and learning for economic life," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life, chapter 6, pages 77-90 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Wilfred Dolfsma, 2013. "Government Failure," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 15372.
    3. Alessandro Fedele, 2015. "Well-Paid Nurses are Good Nurses," BEMPS - Bozen Economics & Management Paper Series BEMPS24, Faculty of Economics and Management at the Free University of Bozen.
    4. Julie A. Nelson, 2013. "Gender and caring," Chapters,in: Handbook of Research on Gender and Economic Life, chapter 5, pages 62-76 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Julie A. Nelson, 2011. "11-03 "Would Women Leaders Have Prevented the Global Financial Crisis? Implications for Teaching about Gender, Behavior, and Economics"," GDAE Working Papers 11-03, GDAE, Tufts University.

    More about this item


    Nursing; health economics; aging; Cartesianism; body; care;


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