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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Is Dismissing the Precautionary Principle the Manly Thing to Do? Gender and the Economics of Climate Change," GDAE Working Papers 12-04, GDAE, Tufts University.
  • Handle: RePEc:dae:daepap:12-04
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, June.
    3. 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, September.
    4. Julie Nelson, 2007. "Economics for Humans:," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 50(4), pages 17-25.
    5. Curtis, Fred, 2003. "Eco-localism and sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 83-102, August.
    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. 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.
    9. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Are Women Really More Risk-Averse than Men?," GDAE Working Papers 12-05, GDAE, Tufts University.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julie Nelson, 2015. "Fearing fear: gender and economic discourse," Mind & Society: Cognitive Studies in Economics and Social Sciences, Springer;Fondazione Rosselli, vol. 14(1), pages 129-139, June.
    2. Julie A. Nelson, 2012. "Poisoning the Well, or How Economic Theory Damages Moral Imagination," GDAE Working Papers 12-07, GDAE, Tufts University.

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