Feminist economics broadly refers to a developing branch of economics that applies feminist lenses to economics. Research under this heading is often interdisciplinary or heterodox. It encompasses debates about the relationship between feminism and economics on many levels: from applying mainstream economic methods to what feminist economists claim are under-researched “women’s” areas, to questioning how mainstream economics values the reproductive sector, to examinations of economic epistemology and methodology.
One prominent claim that feminist economists make is that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) does not adequately measure unpaid labor predominantly performed by women, such as housework, childcare, and eldercare. Since a large part of women’s work is rendered invisible, they argue that policies meant to boost GDP can, in many instances, actually worsen the impoverishment of women, even if the intention is to increase prosperity. For example, opening up a state-owned forest in the Himalayas to commercial logging may increase India’s GDP, but women who collect fuel from the forest to cook with may face substantially more hardships.