Research Article
Research Article
Economics of gender: A bibliometric analysis
expand article infoIrina E. Kalabikhina, Sofia M. Rebrey§
‡ Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
§ MGIMO-University, Moscow, Russia
Open Access


This research aims to identify major fields and structures of economics of gender research based on bibliometric analysis between 1960 and 2020. The analysis of the journals in economics of gender captures major development stages of gender economics. The study of economics of gender is growing rapidly as seen in the increasing number of journals, articles and citations from the 1970s onwards. It grew faster than the pace of economic publications during the 1980–1990s. The economics of gender research disciplines largely replicates economics and can be viewed as part of economics of inequality. But its feminist philosophy and methodology distinguish the economics of gender as a separate branch of economic sciences which furnishes new findings. According to the Scimago and Web of Science databases, more than 90% of articles in economics of gender are published in English (fewer than in the field of economics in general). The structure of the analyzed countries reflects not only the sophistication of national research in economics of gender, but also the degree of their integration into international scientific discourse, including the presence of a language barrier. Gender economists are primarily focused on the problems of developing countries. Advanced economies account for less than a third of all publications.


bibliometric analysis, economics of gender, gender economics, feminist economics, women studies, economics, scientific journals.

JEL classification: B54, J16.

1. Introduction

Gender studies started to manifest in academia mainly in the United States, Great Britain and France in the 1960–1970s, when research interest was spurred on the one hand by the feminization of paid labor, and on the other, by the Western feminist movement which facilitated the establishment of global institutions within the UN. These institutions included funds and divisions for the advancement of women,1 and international global conferences, held every 5 years from 1970 worldwide.

It would be erroneous to assume that no scholar researched the role of women in the economy prior to the collapse of the feminist movement. The most famous example of research is an essay written by John Stuart Mill together with his wife Harriet Taylor Mill, but only finished and published after her death in 1869. Moreover, the bibliography of female economic thought up until 1940 contain more than a ten thousand references to materials appearing from the 1770s to 1940 in all languages on economic issues. The majority are written by American and British authors, with some by European authors, and a few by authors in Africa, Asia, and Latin America (Madden et al., 2004). Only some works, written by female economists, consider economics of gender. The early 20th century saw the first women obtaining a PhD in economics in the U.S. and the beginnings of their research within scientific institutions which was published by academic outlets. Among other topics­, they researched the consumption economy (Kyrk, 1923), household production (Reid, 1934) and other spheres, particularly within the realm of home economics (Tollec, 2020), in which women operated more than men. They noted inconsistencies and attempted to fill omissions in economic analysis. However, books, published only sporadically, did not really spur a wide discussion and remained isolated. Moreover, 1960–1970 saw the birth of new home economics within the Chicago school, dominated by male authors advocating for traditional allocation of time (Becker, 1991). Academic discussion demands a space to be allocated to it, particularly in academic journals. Research on gender economics could be published in economic journals and develop as a branch of economics but the revision of journal establishment shows that it did not happen. The economics of gender began to take shape be incorporated as a part of women and gender studies.

The 1970–1980s saw the birth of many gender studies journals and some of them contain sections on the economy. The oldest one is Feminist Studies, established in 1972, followed by Affilia — Journal of Women and Social Work (in 1986), Gender and Education (in 1989), Journal of Women and Aging (in 1989). In the 1990s the first two international gender journals specializing in economics were founded: Gender and Development and Feminist Economics. By “international” we mean not only its status, but also content that is not focused on national issues of the publishing state. The 1980–1990s also witnessed the rise of national gender economic journals, particularly in nations with high levels of gender awareness: Australian Feminist Studies in 1985, NORANordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research in 1993, the Brazilian journal Revista Estudos Feministas in 1992, the European Journal of Women’s Studies in 1994, the Asian Journal of Women’s Studies and the Journal of African American Studies in 1995, Women in Russian Society in 1996, etc. By “national” we mean focused on national issues, although the journal might lay claim to international status. In the 2000s, the specialization of gender economic journals narrowed with the establishment of journals devoted to gender in management, or in the household, in business, etc. Thus, the historical emergence of academic journals can demonstrate how the economics of gender was shaped at first as a section of gender studies journals and then further crystalized into separate journals.

We should also mention the glossology of gender studies. There is a certain discourse within academia dealing with the disparities between women, gender and feminist studies. Women’s studies prevailed back in 1960–1980, when gender studies were emerging, and traced empirical gender inequalities and different roles that sexes usually play in the androcentric (male) world (Choldin, 1991), without acknowledging the patriarchal structure of society. Gender studies emerged later and embraced men, by using a feminist approach to stereotyped “normal” behavior and relations within society. However, many economists argue that gender studies use mainstream economics to close gender gaps (Jacobsen, 2007). For instance, the gender approach uses the neoclassical economic model of rationality. Whether feminist economics confronts the neoclassical economic model of rationality as crucial factor of patriarchy is a point in question (Becchio, 2019). Addressing gender inequality by applying cost-benefit analysis without considering the influence of social norms on the formation of gender stereotypes, which mainly disadvantage women, does not help to provide the theoretical solution to these problems (Becchio, 2021). The issue of social norms and stereotypes has become especially relevant in the modern economy of gender, when artificial intelligence and big data documented the “taste-based” discrimination (Sevilla, 2020), described by Becker (1971). Rethinking “gender” promotes the humanization of economics as a field of knowledge (Jacobsen, 2020). The old dilemma of equity and efficiency is being rethought. If neoclassical economists prioritized efficiency, and many gender researchers and early feminists prioritized justice, modern feminist economists believe that these goals can be combined, because a fair economy is more efficient (Jacobsen, 2020). This means that the traditions of neoclassical and feminist economics can be combined both in dealing with the equity-efficiency dilemma and in the gender allocation of power in the family and society (Jacobsen, 2020). It should be noted that feminist economists indeed often use the methods of mainstream economics (Tejani, 2019), however, the conceptual framework for interpreting the results and asking questions in the study allows for the construction of a new approach in economic research. Nevertheless, sometimes it is challenging to distinguish gender and feminist economics, because the methods are often similar, and the rigor of using the conceptual framework of feminist economics in research on gender inequality cannot always be clearly defined. A good example is work by A. Sevilla (2020), in which the author, defining the current trends in gender economics, focuses on various kinds of stereotypes.

In our work, we analyzed a vast amount of literature, relying on the capabilities of bibliographic systems. This predetermined a synonymous approach to the terms under discussion as no bibliographic system contains the full wealth of these terms. In one case, we are dealing only with the “Women studies” section (in WoS), in the other — with the section “Gender studies” (in SCImago). Consequently, we selected articles whose subject was “gender.” The keywords we relied on in the search were “gender” and “economics.”

The term “economics of gender,” which is fixed in the JEL classification (J16), largely reflects our approach, as it moves from a conceptual definition of the field of economic knowledge to an objective one, emphasizing the study of “gender” in economic issues — from the impact of gender inequality on the economy at the macro level to the impact of the distribution of time budgets on individual economic decisions at the micro level. An example of such an “objective” approach can be found in the academic literature provided for university courses on economics, the position of women in economics, and the economics of gender (Blau and Winkler, 2018).

This research aims to quantify dynamics, fields and structures of publications on economics of gender from the first articles in the 1960s to 2020, to reveal interdisciplinary interconnections and to identify the pioneering countries, their key journals, and rankings. To achieve this we conducted a bibliometric analysis and compared articles on economics of gender with economic ones. We use two key international scientific databases Scopus via SCImago and Web of Science, which allow us to reveal the present structure of economics of gender through publications, journals, their rankings, countries of origin and countries in research focus, major institutions like publishers and research centers.

2. Scope and methods

Bibliometrics is a field of study in the area of library and informational sciences­ that emerged in the second half of the 20th century. It is a quantitative study that includes any quantitative measures or analysis applied to bibliographic units (Broadus, 1987). A growing number of international online databases include academic journals and other publications that facilitate bibliometric analysis and result in an increasing number of works in different areas, including economics. Moreover, databases provide tools and calculate indexes, which enable us to trace citations and co-citations, etc.

There are three approaches to bibliometric analysis. The first focuses on the authors and their publication activity (Bonilla et al., 2015). The second focuses on authors and includes not only their publication activity, but also education, career path and other idiosyncrasies that might illuminate the knowledge creation process. Among other things this approach shows gender disparities in science (Corsi and Zacchia, 2014). The third approach focuses on journals and aims to identify the structure of science (Claveau and Gingras, 2016; Guerrero Bote and Moya-Anegón, 2012), research clusters, emerging topics and leading scholars (Merediz-Solà and Bariviera, 2019), as well as interactions between economics journals (Faber Frandsen, 2005; Truc et al., 2021). This approach is used in our paper.

To reveal the topical structure of gender economics we conduct a bibliometric analysis of international databases Scopus via SCImago and Web of Science. The databases provide efficient tools for bibliometric data analysis, but using the international databases only allows for including in the analysis those journals that are presented in the databases.

2.1. Scopus via SCImago

Scopus data is available via open online source SCImago Journal & Country Rank. Scimago has developed SJR2 indicator (Scimago Journal Ranking 2 indicator) that considers the prestige of the citing scientific journal and its closeness to the cited journals “using the cosine of angle between the vectors of the 2 journals­ cocitations profiles” (Guerrero-Bote and Moya-Anegón, 2012, p. 674). This instrument allows us to reveal a global structure of science.

The Scimago database provides the categorization of journals. Journals on the economics of gender are located within the gender studies category. It contains 146 journals (by 2019). Apart from economics, there are also journals covering psychology, arts and humanities, sociology and political sciences, education, law, health, history, archeology, linguistics, philology, theology, pedagogics, etc. Moreover, several journals concern men and masculinities and boyhood studies.

2.2. Web of Science

Clearly, research on economics of gender is published not only in specialized gender journals, but also in economic journals. In order to count the total number of articles on economics of gender and to compare them with all economic articles, the web of science database is used. Web of Science is a Clarivate Analytics’ website that provides subscription-based access to citation data and analytical tools, including visualization. The citation index for science, used by Web of Science, was developed by Eugene Garfield. It allows “to eliminate the uncritical citation of fraudulent, incomplete or obsolete data by making it possible for the conscientious scholar to be aware of criticisms of earlier papers” (Garfield, 1955, p. 122). Web of Science provides different search tools and its own categorization of scientific fields. The economics of gender Web of Science categorization falls only within the category of women’s studies.

Search terms such as “women’s studies,” together with “economics,” find 5,049 pub­lications with a total number of 36,603 citations, of which 31,021 were with­out self-citation, for the period 1975–2021 with a Hirsch index of 73 and an average document citation of 7.25. However, the search term “gender” together with “economics” finds 4 times more articles than “women’s studies” — 21,996 publications.2

In addition, to count which countries are researched by economists with regard to gender topics, we used issues of Feminist Economics (2016–2020). This journal is chosen as a key platform for international discussion on economics of gender issues with highest ranking, calculated by Scimago (first quartile in all categories).

3. Results

3.1. Structure of scientific journals on economics of gender (by Scopus via SCImago)

The Scimago database includes six international journals that are fully or predominantly devoted to economics of gender (Table 1). According to the Scimago ranking, journals on economics of gender belong to the first (Q1) and second (Q2) quartile of Scopus, except for the Slovak journal, as it was included in the database only recently.

Table 1

International journals on economics of gender.

Title Scopus category (quartile*) SJR Quartile h-index Country Publisher
Gender and Development • Development
• Gender studies
• Geography, planning and development
Q2 36 United Kingdom Routledge
Feminist Economics • Arts and humanities (miscellaneous)
• Business, management and accounting (miscellaneous)
• Economics and econometrics
• Gender studies
Q1 52 United Kingdom Routledge
Gender in Management • Business, management and accounting (miscellaneous)
• Gender studies
Q2 48 United Kingdom Emerald Group Publishing
International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship • Business and international management
• Economics and econometrics
• Gender studies
Q2 25 United Kingdom Emerald Group Publishing
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion • Cultural studies (Q1)
• Gender studies (Q2)
• Sociology and political science (Q2)
• Organizational behavior and human resource management (Q3)
Q2 23 United Kingdom Emerald Group Publishing
Advances in Business Related Scientific Research Journal • Business, management and accounting (miscellaneous)
• Economics, econometrics and finance (miscellaneous)
• Gender studies
• Law
Q4 1 Slovenia GEA College — Faculty of Entrepreneurship

There are 14 interdisciplinary journals that have a section on economics of gender (Table 2). They also mostly belong to Q1 and Q2. Apart from American (including one Canadian) and British, there is one Indian journal — Gender, Technology and Development, which also belongs to Q1. Among global academic publishers there are Routledge (4 journals), Taylor and Francis (1), Palgrave Macmillan (1), SAGE Publications (1), and others. Only a few journals are published by universities or local publishers.

Table 2

Interdisciplinary gender studies journals with a Section on economics of gender.

Title Scopus category (quartile*) SJR quartile h-index Country Publisher
Feminist Studies • Arts and humanities (miscellaneous) (Q2)
• Gender studies (Q3)
Q3 35 United States Feminist Studies
Monthly Review • Gender studies (Q2)
• Geography, planning and development (Q2)
• Sociology and political science (Q2)
• Management, monitoring, policy and law (Q3)
Q2 30 United States Monthly Review Press
Gender and Education • Education
• Gender studies
Q1 60 United Kingdom Routledge
Journal of Women and Aging • Gender studies (Q2)
• Geriatrics and gerontology (Q3)
Q2 33 United States Routledge
Journal of Gender Studies • Arts and humanities (miscellaneous)
• Gender studies
• Social sciences (miscellaneous)
Q1 31 United Kingdom Routledge
Feminist Review • Arts and humanities (miscellaneous)
• Gender studies
Q2 43 United Kingdom Palgrave Macmillan
Gender Issues • Gender studies Q2 24 United States Springer New York
Gender, Technology and Development • Gender studies (Q1)
• Development (Q2)
Q1 19 India Routledge
Feminist Theory • Gender studies Q2 41 United Kingdom SAGE Publications
Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering • Engineering (miscellaneous)
• Gender studies
Q2 20 United States Begell House
Studies in Social Justice • Gender studies
• Law
• Sociology and political science
Q2 12 Canada Centre for Studies in Social Justice, University of Windsor
International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics • Philosophy
• Gender studies
• Health (social science)
Q3 9 United States University of Toronto Press
Journal of Women and Gender in Higher Education • Gender studies (Q1)
• Education (Q2)
Q1 7 United States Taylor and Francis

Further, the database contains 23 journals that cover national issues (Table 3) and are published both in developed economies like Australia and Norway and in less advanced ones, in terms of economic development or gender equality (like the Republic of Korea and Eastern European states). The Russian journal Woman in Russian Society is included in Q3 of the Scopus database and is published by Ivanovo State University.

Table 3

National journals on gender studies that contain a Section on economics of gender.

Title Scopus category (quartile) SJR Quartile h-index Country Publisher
Australian Feminist Studies • Gender studies Q2 26 United Kingdom Routledge
NORA — Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research • Gender studies Q2 25 United Kingdom Routledge
Estudos Feministas • Gender studies Q3 13 Brazil Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro — UFRJ
European Journal of Women’s Studies • Arts and humanities (miscellaneous)
• Gender studies
Q1 41 United Kingdom SAGE Publications
Asian Journal of Women’s Studies • Gender studies Q3 11 United Kingdom Taylor and Francis
Journal of African American Studies • Cultural studies (Q2)
• Gender studies (Q3)
• Sociology and political science (Q3)
Q3 15 United States Springer New York
Travail, Genre et Societes • Business and international management
• Economics and econometrics
• Gender studies
• Organizational behavior and human resource management
• Sociology and political science
Q3 14 France Editions La Decouverte
Hawwa • Cultural studies (Q3)
• Gender studies
• Sociology and political science (Q4)
Q4 10 Netherlands Brill Academic Publishers
Nouvelles Questions Feministes • Gender studies Q4 8 Switzerland Editions Antipodes
Women and Gender: The Middle East and the Islamic World • Religious studies (Q3)
• Cultural studies (Q4)
• Gender studies (Q4)
Q4 6 Netherlands Entomological Society of Canada
Cadernos Pagu • Gender studies Q2 9 Brazil Universidade Estadual de Campinas UNICAMP
Asian Women • Gender studies
• Sociology and political science
Q3 6 South Korea Sookmyung Women’s University
Feministische Studien • Gender studies
• Sociology and political science
Q4 6 Germany Walter de Gruyter GmbH
Women and Gender in China Studies • Cultural studies (Q3)
• Gender studies (Q4)
Q4 3 Netherlands Entomological Society of Canada
Chinese Sociological Review • Anthropology
• Demography
• Gender studies
• Sociology and poltical science
Q1 17 United States M.E. Sharpe
Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies • Cultural studies (Q1)
• History (Q1)
• Gender studies (Q2)
• Sociology and political science (Q2)
Q2 7 United States Indiana University Press
Gender, Equal Opportunities, Research • Gender studies Q4 4 Czech Republic Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
NORMA • Gender studies Q2 9 United Kingdom Taylor and Francis
Woman in Russian Society • Gender studies
• Sociology and political science
Q3 2 Russian Federation Ivanovo State University Publishing
Gender a Vyzkum / Gender and Research • Gender studies Q4 1 Czech Republic Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Institute of Sociology
Gender Studies • Gender studies Q4 1 Poland De Gruyter Open
Advances in Business Related Scientific Research Journal • Business, management and accounting (miscellaneous)
• Economics, econometrics and finance (miscellaneous)
• Gender studies
• Law
Q4 1 Slovenia GEA College — Faculty of Entrepreneurship
Intersections (Australia) • Cultural studies (Q3)
• History (Q3)
• Gender studies (Q4)
Q4 0 Australia Australian National University, Dept. of Gender, Media and Cultural Studies

Whereas women’s studies imply the research of female issues only, gender studies include studies of men too. Gender studies evolved from women’s studies to gender studies in 1970–1980s and inspired international organizations to switch from approaches such as “Women in Development” and “Women and Development” to “Gender and Development” (Benería et al., 2016). Sociological journals that study men, masculinity and boyhood appeared in the 1980s; however, those focused on the economics of gender lagged behind: only the Scandinavian journal Norma includes an economics section. Norma is an interdisciplinary journal­, created by the Nordic Association for Research on Men and Masculinities and published by Taylor & Francis. The most read economic article published in Norma focuses on the demographic study of single fathers. According to the study, more than half of single fathers in Ghana remain single, depending on factors such as age, the number of years spent as a single father, and the number of dependents (Amissah, 2021).

Several economics of gender journals (or gender studies journals with an economics of gender section) are included in the Scopus database but not found in Scimago data. Those journals are: Association for Women in Mathematics Series, Canadian Woman Studies, Feminist Issues, Frontiers, Gender and Society, Gender, Work and Organization, Indian Journal of Gender Studies, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Journal of International Women’s Studies, Journal of Research in Gender Studies, Journal of Women, Politics and Policy, Palgrave Studies in Gender and Education, Politics & Gender, Women’s Studies in Communication.

3.2. What is the difference between economics of gender and economics in general? (Web of Science publications)

We compare the economics of gender with economics in general publications in the context of 4 factors: the dynamics of volume of publications in 1960–2020, the disciplinary structure of publications, the languages published, and the countries of publication.

Fig. 1 shows the growth rate of economics of gender and economics from 1960 to 2020, calculated as a five-year moving average percentage growth rate. Web of Science finds zero economics of gender articles and 2455 economic articles published before 1950. The first article in economics of gender, found in Web of Science, was published in 1962, the second in 1964. A steady increase in economics of gender articles began in 1976, when the gender studies journals opened a relevant­ section. The number of publications grew rapidly through the 1980–1990s, then continuing, albeit with a declining growth rate, but one that still outpaces the number of economic publications on 30–40% in the 2010–2020s.

Fig. 1.

Five years moving average growth rates of publications in Economics of gender and Economics, 1960–2020 (%).

Source: Authors’ calculation based on Web of Science data.

In order to visualize the structure and interlinkages of academic disciplines, we examine different areas of studies that cover articles from the economics of gender, and exclusively economics. As articles in Web of Science belong to different areas of studies, and sometimes to different disciplines, examining their interlinkages shows how the economics of gender and economics interact with other disciplines (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2.

Discipline intersections of Economics of gender and Economics (%).

Source: Authors’ calculation based on Web of Science data.

To compare the disciplines of economics of gender and economics we combined web of science categories into larger units.

Their interdisciplinary structure is quite similar; however, the economics of gender has more intersections with social sciences, history and philosophy and medicine, pharma, psychiatry and psychology, whereas economics intersects more with technical and computer sciences, engineering and mathematics. A closer look at socio-economic research categories also reveals a similar structure of fields covered. Intersections with medicine and healthcare are the most common, as medical studies take into account economic factors.

Fig. 3 presents data on countries’/regions’ share in economics of gender and in economics, and we can see that the structure differs from the previous figure. For example, China produces more articles on economics and gender economics than the whole of remaining Northeast Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Nepal, Mongolia, and North Korea). But China’s interest lies primarily in economics, an area in which they already hold third place among countries after the U.S. and United Kingdom. Clearly, the Chinese write more articles in English than in Chinese, hence the language of international academia will remain English, but the Chinese voice and their agenda will likely become increasingly important.

Fig. 3.

Publishing countries/regions in Economics of gender and Economics (%).

Source: Authors’ calculation based on Web of Science data.

Most developed economies and English-speaking countries have a wider share of articles on gender economics than on economics, except for the United Kingdom (despite the global publishers cited earlier). The U.S. publishes more on gender equality than the EU.

A country’s specific publication activity in international databases depends not only on R&D development, but also on its integration into international academic discourse.

Native English is a serious advantage here — 91% of articles on economics are written in English. The share of English in economics of gender is slightly lower than in economics (90%). To visualize other languages’ frequencies, the English language is subtracted from the database, and the share of other languages for economics of gender and for economics is calculated (Fig. 4). Apart from English, the most popular languages are Spanish, French, Portuguese, Korean, and Chinese. However, this does not mean that South Korea produces more articles on economics and gender economics than China. It only means that Koreans write more in Korean, and that the Korean database is included in the Web of Science platform. Languages that have a larger share of articles on economics of gender rather than economics are Spanish –— on account of the large Latin-American region, which is advanced in terms of gender equality, Portuguese (due to Brazil), Korean, Chinese, Arabic and Turkish. In contrast, French, German, Russian, Italian and others have a larger share of articles on economics than gender economics.

Fig. 4.

Languages of publications in Economics of gender and Economics, except English (%).

Source: Authors’ calculation based on Web of Science data.

The most popular journals and book series in economics of gender are visualiz­ed via online Web of Science tools in Fig. 5. The figure shows that the journals with the greatest number of publications in economics of gender are Gender, Work and Organization and Feminist Economics with 1071 and 1021 articles respectively.

Fig. 5.

Publications on gender economics: journals and book series.

Source: Visualization by Web of Science online tools.

3.3. Who investigates whom (in Feminist Economics)

To understand the authors and topics in gender economics we analyze the massive of papers published in Feminist Economics in 2016–2020.

Feminist Economics is the highest ranked journal on gender economics with a truly international author community and research agenda. Looking at which countries focused their research on which countries reveals the following picture.

Gender economists are primarily focused on the problems of developing countries (58%), led by China (12% of articles) and India (7%). Africa accounts for 13% of articles, including the countries of Ghana, Uganda, Mali, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Madagascar, Nigeria, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Chad. African studies are predominantly carried out by European and American researchers.

Latin America accounts for 7.5% of research, including the countries of Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador, and Haiti. Asia (in addition to China and India) is represented by studies of such developing countries as Turkey (2.2%), Bangladesh (1.5%), Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, Iran and Pakistan.

The post-Soviet space is represented by Tajikistan. In addition, the post-Soviet (institutional) legacy is examined using the example of East Germany.

Advanced economies account for 27.8% of research. Europe — 19% (EU — 2%, Spain — 3%, Great Britain — 2%, Germany — 2%, Italy, Greece, Sweden, Poland, Portugal), the U.S. — 7%, Australia — 3%.

4. Discussion and conclusions

Research into women’s issues and gender inequalities has been conducted in the past, but it was shaped into a research category and institutionalized only in the 1970–1980s, and incorporated into the thriving field of gender studies.

Economics of gender covers topics ranging from gender studies, women’s studies, and feminist studies that focus on economics of inequality by gender. However, feminist economists tend to separate themselves from other gender economic researchers because they focus on female perspectives (gynocentric approach; Jacobsen, 2020). Where gender economics usually finds roots of gender inequality in choice theory or institutional factors, feminist economics advocates that every choice is based on institutional factors, thus prioritizing the latter (Lundberg, 2022). We ignore this division for several reasons. First, there is no room for dividing feminist and gender studies, as the databases include only one of the categories (either women’s studies or gender studies, but no feminist economics). The lack of that specific category can be viewed as an obstacle preventing the bibliometric analysis of feminist economics as a separate field. Secondly, current bibliometric analysis concentrates on economic research that uses gender methods, whether it is andro- or gynocentric.

The study of the economics of gender is growing rapidly in terms of the number of journals, articles, and citations. It has outpaced economics’ publications since 1980 and continues to do so, even though the growth rates have decreased. Thus, the economics of gender has become one of the core and rapidly growing branches of economics with the relevant journals now being in the Q1 of the SCImago ranking of economic journals.

However, instead of presenting a coherent domain of economic study, it consists of many schools and fields that cover major pressing issues of economics­. Essentially, economics of gender subscribes to a gender-based analytic methodo­logy coupled with feminist prerequisites. As part of gender studies, it remains interdisciplinary and structured similarly to economics.

The research was stimulated by institutional development — the creation of departments, laboratories, institutes for gender economics, as well as journals with relevant sections or fully devoted to the new branch of economic knowledge­. The economics of gender flourished as an offshoot of gender studies when a feminist movement and academia facilitated the institutionalization of gender studies through journals. The leading countries in gender publications are also leading in the number of specialized book series and journals, as well as in the number of institutions dealing with gender economics.

It allows us to see the connections between national and gender agendas and their impact on the global gender economic discourse. Advanced gender research centers consider socio-economic policies through the lens of gender expertise and produce gender budgeting and gender mainstreaming in their countries, but still face major challenges and resistance (Lombardo and Meier, 2008; Lombardo and Mergaert, 2016; Vida, 2021). However, countries that do not develop gender studies usually either use a gender-blind approach or appropriate policies from developed countries that might not fit particular national institutions and hence exacerbate women’s double burden. Moreover, Western gender studies research centers largely shape the global approach to economics of gender in the UN and other international organizations, which remain the main force of women’s empowerment in most developing countries (Bandura, 2020; UN Women, 2015, 2020).

The structure of gender economics journals fully reflects the trends in the development of science. The emergence of a number of national journals along with international ones is associated with the development of national perspective in feminist theory and empirical work. And the number of interdisciplinary journals proves the high level of interdisciplinarity of this branch of economic sciences.

In the interdisciplinary field, there is also a similar structure of articles on economics of gender and economics. But the weights of research fields are different. For example, the economics of gender have more interdisciplinary articles within social sciences, history and philosophy, medicine, pharma, psychiatry and psychology, whereas economics intersects more with technical and computer sciences, engineering and mathematics.

Journal specialization will intensify and more countries will establish gender economic journals in line with advancements in gender economic research. The sophistication of gender research and its impact on international academia, represented by quartile ranking, is primarily associated with the level of gender equality in the specific country. Countries with a low level of gender equality have journals with lower ranking (Q3–Q4). Thus, leaders in economics of gender are the U.S. and other English-speaking countries (such as the UK, Canada and Australia, etc.). However, this result is impacted by the limitations of the databases, which include more journals in English.

The U.S. publishes more on gender equality than the EU. Also, the United States experiences a sharper yet less effective fight for gender equality than Europe: according to the Global Gender Gap report, the U.S. is ranked 30, whereas Europe fills the top (World Economic Forum, 2021). The low level of gender equality (especially for a developed economy) in the United States is based on the predominant role of (neo)liberal ideas (Benería et al., 2016; Razavi, 2011; Waller and Wrenn, 2021). Thus, the United States remains one of two countries in the world (along with Papua New Guinea), where the state does not guarantee either maternity or parental leave. In Europe, by contrast, the spread of the principles of social capitalism promotes the establishment of feminist norms (Andrew, 1984; Sainsbury, 2001). Continuing the example of childbirth, European countries have not only mothers’, but also fathers’ exclusive rights to paternity leave. An increase in the share of the latter contributes to balancing the gender allocation of unpaid domestic labor that stimulates the increase in fertility, GDP growth and gender equality (Bettio and Verashchagina, 2008; Da Rocha and Fuster, 2006; Duvander et al., 2019; Feyrer et al., 2008; Lacalle‑Calderon et al., 2017; Myrskylä et al., 2011; Zhou and Kan, 2019).

Asian feminism rather penetrates from the outside. In China, feminist ideas began to come in the 1930s–1940s through the richest and most educated men who kept in touch with the “enlightened West,” however it did not last long (Sinetskaya, 2019). The Song sisters, who were educated in the West and played a significant role in the formation of modern China, not only as the wives of the leaders of the nation (Kong Xiangxi, Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek), but even as honorary President of the PRC, are a striking example of such a progressive upbringing (Chang, 2019). Nevertheless, patriarchal norms continued to prevail in the countries of the Confucian area.

China, which is gaining significant weight in publications, is more visible in economic publications than in those on gender economics. The absence of the Chinese language among the leaders in economics of gender is explained by the fact that Chinese scholars try to publish more in the English language in international journals.

In Confucian Asia, despite the socio-cultural rejection of gender equality, research on gender economics is developing because scholars and politicians are beginning to see gender policy as a solution to demographic issues — ultra-low fertility and the refusal of young generations to marry and start a family (Bohong et al., 2009; Connelly et al., 2018; Croll, 1985; Maurer-Fazio et al., 2011).

The intensification of gender studies in Asia is currently associated with the spread of gender economic theories and the exacerbation of economic and demographic problems. For example, the ex-Prime Minister of Japan S. Abe singled out low female participation in paid labor as one of the main reasons for the sluggish economy and in 2013 he prioritized an economic policy which was dubbed “Womenomics” and was designed to increase women’s parti­cipation in paid employment through the large-scale construction of kindergartens and the subsequent abolition of fees (Kubo and Nguyen, 2021; Nagase, 2018), and the indicative appointment of women to management positions (e.g., Governor of Tokyo, Minister of Defense, etc.). The first measure was popular among the population, but the last one triggered wide critiques, which indicates that it is not so much Japanese society, as the government, which is pioneering the advance in gender equality. State initiatives are expressed, among other things, through the stimulation of scientific activity and are accompanied by a gradual growth of activism. South Korea experiences similar demographic issues: low fertility, combined with low level of gender equality (Seo, 2019).

Islamic feminism stands out separately, where the main force is the academy, but not in economic policy.

Russia’s contribution to economic publications is quite low, and even lower in publications on economics of gender. The reason lies in the weak institutional support for gender studies in Russia and, more broadly, has to do with the renaissance of patriarchal sentiments in social policy in recent decades. Russia and other post-Soviet states inherit a controversial legacy. On the one hand, the USSR pioneered the feminization of labor markets by providing state childcare facilities. Many women working in research, who had obtained academic degrees, were allowed to study women’s issues, although censorship of activities prevailed. After the collapse of the 1990s, gender studies and gender economic research revived but they did not find sufficient financial support (Kalabikhina and Rebrey, 2022). Feminist ideas are unpopular in Russia; however, inequality and demographic problems are pressing issues. The Western feminist agenda, when transplanted to Russia, has a low chance of success against the contrasting backdrop of national problems. This tends to distort the understanding of gender economic ideas.

We shall hope that the rich experience of the USSR regarding women’s emancipation will be in demand and developed in the next wave of interest in gender politics as a resource for solving Russia’s demographic problems.

The limitations of our analysis are based on our sources of information. Firstly, using the international databases allows us to include in our analysis only the journals present in the databases. Secondly, the databases’ categorization can be viewed as an institutional obstacle to proper bibliometric analysis, since it can misinterpret the core ideas of the field.

Nevertheless, we have discovered the main trends in the economics of gender. Economics of gender studies grew rapidly in the number of journals, articles and citations in the 1970s. It grew faster than economics publications during the 1980–1990s. Economics of gender research disciplines largely replicate the ones in economics and can be viewed as part of the economics of inequality. But feminist philosophy and methodology distinguish economics of gender as a separate branch of economic sciences, and usher us into a new realm of knowledge. According to the Scimago and Web of Science database, more than 90% of articles in economics of gender are published in English (slightly fewer than in economics in general). The structure of the analyzed countries reflects not only the sophistication of national research in economics of gender, but also the degree of their integration into international scientific discourse, including the presence of a language barrier. For example, the Scandinavian countries and France, which are considered to be pioneers in the fight against gender inequality, are poorly represented among the Web of Science journals. Russia and other post-Soviet states, and the developed countries of Asia belong to the category of countries where the weak development of gender economics is reinforced by the low orientation towards the international academy. Gender economists are primarily focused on the problems of developing countries. Advanced economies account for less than a third of all publications.


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1 Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) and United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) were established in 1976 as successor organizations to the Division for the Advancement of Women (established in 1946).
2 Web of Science tools do not provide citation metrics for large databases.
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