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Randy Pearl Albelda (born 1955) is an American feminist economist holding a Ph.D. in economics who is an activist for women and children, an author, and an academic. She specialises in poverty and gender issues. Her research interests and specialties include political economy of feminism, gender and race, labor economics, women’s economic status, public policies, economics of taxation, family policies, and poverty.
Albelda became a professor at University of Massachusetts Boston in Economics in 1988. She has worked as research director of the Massachusetts State Senate's Taxation Committee and the legislature's Special Commission on Tax Reform. She became an associate editor for the journal Feminist Economics in 2004, an editorial associate for Dollars & Sense magazine in 1986, and was a co-founder of Academics Working Group on Poverty in Massachusetts in 1995, remaining until 1999.
Albelda was born in Wilmington Delaware on October 18, 1955. Her parents were both immigrants from Bulgaria. She graduated from high school in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, then enrolled in Smith College, where she received a B.A. in Economics in 1977, followed by a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. In 1983[dead link] her first paper was published researching the determinants of women's wages during the Progressive era.
With her colleague Ann Withorn, Albelda started the Boston Area Academics Working Group on Poverty in 1995 as welfare reform measures were being passed in Massachusetts. Albelda and The Academic Working Group are in a coalition called Working Massachusetts that incorporates academics, the State AFL-CIO, religious groups, and low-income people.
In an interview with Against the Current, the bi-monthly journal of SOLIDARITY, she said, “Tax and budget issues always tend to converge around welfare issues, so that is one way I got involved. But recently, the debate around welfare reform was so clearly misogynist, and so clearly missing what feminists had been talking about for years – any idea of the role of child care in society, of societal obligations around raising children – that it was hard not to jump in.”
In interview in 2000 with Sloan Work and Family Research Network at Boston College, Albelda stated that people think too narrowly when they identify what public polices are work/family policies. For example, the effect of education policies, like the length of the school day and calendar, can constrain the choices of working families. In the United States, the market controls the quality of family life. “America has an explicit public policy not to share most of the costs associated with child rearing with families,” she said. Workplaces, she argues, cannot be the sole determinant of the quality of healthcare, housing, or wages. Public policies should “set the expectations for what corporations should do and then make provisions to complement policies and programs.”
Albelda has written on welfare reform, paid family leave policies, racial and gender divisions in occupations, the distribution of family income and earnings, and gender and race bias in radical theories of labor market segmentation. She has written and co-authored a number of books, articles and reports focusing on policies that affect the wellbeing of working families. She has published over twenty articles, many published in Feminist Economics, and has contributed to Dollars & Sense magazine with articles including “What's Wrong with Welfare to Work” and “What Welfare Reform Has Wrought.”
- Mink Coats Don’t Trickle Down: The Economic Attack on Women and People of Color (1987; co-authored with Elaine McCrate, Edwin Melendez, and June Lapidus)
This publication deals with the effects of conservative economic policies. Albelda faults Ronald Reagan’s conservative economic policies, specifically “trickle-down” or “supply-side” economics and free-market orthodoxy for “[dismantling] of the economic order which emerged from the Great Depression and World War II.” The chapter that Albelda co-authored, Chapter 4 “Women and Children Last,” argues that because of conservative economics and “family values,” women with children but without male breadwinners are more likely to be poor.
- Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits (1997; co-authored with Chris Tilly)
This publication discusses problems faced by working women. From female corporate executives to welfare mothers, all are plagued by job discrimination, lower pay than men, and primary responsibility for the unpaid work of making sure their children are cared for. In addition, the rapid changes in the U.S. economy and culture in the past fifty years have multiplied the pressures families face, leaving single mothers with few options. With an examination of the impact of public policies on families and the failings of current welfare reform initiatives, including the 1996 welfare law, Albelda and Tilly make proposals for transforming welfare and many types of public policies that provide support for families and women's economic equality.
- Economics and Feminism: Disturbances in the Field (1997)
In this book Albelda reconciles the tenets of economics, especially neoclassical economics with feminism. Albelda examines the antifeminist ideology constructed and employed by neoclassical economics which, she argues, ignores the economic reality of women and other groups.
- Dilemmas of Lone Motherhood: Essay from Feminist Economics (2005; co-authored with Susan Himmelweit and Jane Humphries)
Albelda and co-editors Himmelweit and Humphries collected contributions on the dual and complex responsibilities of lone mother earning wages and taking care of the family. This situation arises because she has no other adult who shares responsibilities and no access to a male wage. Without sturdy family networks, decent part-time employment opportunities, assistance in providing high quality care for children of all ages, or government income support, lone mother households are much more likely to live in poverty. A lone mother cannot compete with dual earner or married parents for the resources needed to raise children. This book was previously published as a special issue of the journal Feminist Economics.
In 2000 Albelda received the Abigail Adams Award from Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus. The MWPC is a multipartisan organization that works to increase the number of women elected and appointed to public office and public policy positions and to increase the participation of women in the political process. In 2004 Albelda received University of Massachusetts Boston’s Chancellor’s Distinguished Scholar Award.
- Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty, with Chris Tilly. South End Press, 1997.
- Economics and Feminism: Disturbances in the Field, Twayne Publishers. 1997.
- Mink Coats Don't Trickle Down: The Economic Attack on People of Color and Women, with Elaine McCrate, Edwin Melendez, and June Lapidus. South End Press, 1987.
- The Dilemmas of Lone Motherhood: Essays from Feminist Economics, with Susan Himmelweit and Jane Humphries, London, Routledge 2005 (A book version of special issue on Lone Mothers published by Feminist Economics).
- UMass Boston
- Boston College News