Preference Theory

Hakim (2006) is one of the most influential authors in the
literature, citied by many other academics and becoming the basis in a lot of
literature predicting diversity in lifestyle choice. The preference theory is
concerned primarily with women’s choice between family work and market work; a
genuine choice in affluent societies.

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Economist’s usual assumptions is that all women give
priority to family activities and responsible simply because it is only the
female that gives birth. A negative of this is that they don’t see women as
individual conversely the rise of voluntary childless female’s dispose of this
assumption.

Within the literature there is a recurrent theme of freedom
of choice which multiple authors have built upon (Gneezy et al, 2003; White,
1992). Hakim (2006) focuses her argument towards there being sex differences in
competitiveness and life goals. She argues within her preference theory that
men will continue to outnumber women in the senior roles, as they try much
harder to get them; contrasting with Becker’s (1975) economic theory of the
family.

An argument within the literature builds upon how in the
past few decades they have been marked by turbulent change. The male
breadwinner family is becoming an endangered species. (Espring-Anderson). There
are several reasons why we might expect gender difference to vanish beyond the
glass ceiling. Evidence that women often try to avoid competitive environments
(niederle et al, 2008) suggests that women who pursue leadership positions may
be very similar to men. Studies suggest that women are generally more risk
averse (eckel and grossman 2008, sapienxa et al 2009) and less keen on being
exposed to competition. (gneezy et al, 2003; Hogarth et al, 2012)

However most of these studies focus on students, workers or
the general population thus it is unclear whether we should expect women at the
top of the corporate ladder to be any different from men.

Academic research increasingly points to fundamental
difference between men and women (Croson and Gnnezy, 2009). Supporting Hakim’s
theory that women are more attracted to hourly based jobs and with the freedom
of choice would rather raise a family. Suggesting that work-centred women are
of the minority versus the majority of men.

Critically speaking Hakim’s study is fairly modern therefore
its relevance against historical theories is beneficial. It also looks at women
as individuals rather than assumptions that women are all the same increasing
its realism. Nonetheless there have been many critiques of Hakim’s work that
point to her failure to identify constraints and to recognise that preferences
change over time (Pocock 2003, Probert & Murphy 2001, Morehead 2005) H. She fails to
pay attention to the complex, cognitive process of preference formation and in particular
to the phenonmen of adaptive preferences.

On a larger scale, these discussions suggest that
one-size-fits all policies will no longer suffice. And the current bias towards
policies support working women exclusively, at the expense of policies
supporting full-time homeworkers and full time parent’s needs to be redressed.
(Hakim, 2003).

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