Thirty years ago Marilyn Waring’s groundbreaking book Counting for Nothing was released. Waring explained, through meticulous economic analysis, how the success of the global economy rests on women’s unpaid work. Counting for Nothingbecame a phenomenon: it was read and discussed around the world, and even made into a film.
Today, many people hope that the shift to a wellbeing approach – moving beyond narrow economic indicators when assessing New Zealand’s progress – will mean women’s work is finally valued fairly. But what does Marilyn Waring make of it? This short book provides an essential assessment of wellbeing economics from a leading feminist scholar.
Marilyn Waring is a Professor of Public Policy at Auckland University of Technology. She was elected to parliament at the age of 23 and was MP for Raglan and then Waipa for nine years. In 1984, her promise to cross the floor and vote for the opposition's nuclear free legislation prompted Prime Minister Robert Muldoon to call a snap election.
Waring has held fellowships at prestigious overseas universities, including Harvard, worked as a development consultant throughout Asia and the Pacific, and served on the Board of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Council of Creative New Zealand. In 2008 she was awarded a CNZM for services to women and economics. She has been awarded Suffrage Centenary, Commemorative and Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee medals, the 2014 NZIER Economist of the Year award and the 2018 Sheffield award for Visionary Leader at the Deloitte Top 200 awards.
In the years since Waring retired from Parliament, she has written Women, Politics and Power, Counting for Nothing, In the Lifetime of a Goat, Who Cares? The Economics of Dignity, and Anticipatory Social Protection.
Collected in this BWB Text are responses to this phenomenon from a diverse range of New Zealand economists and commentators. These voices speak independently to the relevance of Piketty’s conclusions. Is New Zealand faced with a one-way future of rising inequality? Does redistribution need to focus more on wealth, rather than just income? Was the post-war Great Convergence merely an aberration and is our society doomed to regress into a new Gilded Age?
As Waring observes, in this accounting system women are considered 'non-producers' and as such they cannot expect to gain from the distribution of benefits that flow from production. Issues like nuclear warfare, environmental conservation, and poverty are likewise excluded from the calculation of value in traditional economic theory. As a result, public policy, determined by these same accounting processes, inevitably overlooks the importance of the environment and half the world's population.
Counting for Nothing, originally published in 1988, is a classic feminist analysis of women's place in the world economy brought up to date in this reprinted edition, including a sizeable new introduction by the author. In her new introduction, the author updates information and examples and revisits the original chapters with appropriate commentary. In an accessible and often humorous manner, Waring offers an explanation of the current economic systems of accounting and thoroughly outlines ways to ensure that the significance of the environment and the labour contributions of women receive the recognition they deserve.
Including accounts of being in India at the time of Indira Gandhi's assassination, and in Ethiopia's during the 1984 famine, Waring's vivid writing remains contemporarily relevant, while this collection includes recent writings on the post-9/11 world. Brimming with pieces that are essential reading for anyone concerned with the state of the world, 1 Way 2 C the World is bound to fascinate and inspire.