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

  • Julie A. Nelson

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. Nelson, J.A., 2013. "Ethics and the economist: What climate change demands of us," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 145-154.
  2. 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.
  3. Nelson, Julie A., 2006. "Economics for Humans," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, edition 0, number 9780226572024, October.
  4. repec:thk:rnotes:12 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. 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.
  6. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Are Women Really More Risk-Averse than Men?," GDAE Working Papers 12-05, GDAE, Tufts University.
  7. Uri Gneezy & Kenneth L. Leonard & John A. List, 2008. "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," NBER Working Papers 13727, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Dohmen, Thomas J. & Falk, Armin & Huffman, David & Sunde, Uwe & Schupp, Jürgen & Wagner, Gert G., 2009. "Individual risk attitudes: Measurement, determinants and behavioral consequences," Munich Reprints in Economics 20049, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  9. Julie A. Nelson, 1995. "Feminism and Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 131-148, Spring.
  10. Curtis, Fred, 2003. "Eco-localism and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 83-102, August.
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