Skip to main content

Omnibus book honours pioneer for gender-equitable economy

To mark International Women's Day, 'Economics of Gender Inequality' is being published on line. In it, the development economist Professor Michael Grimm of the University of Passau and his Zürich colleague Professor Isabel Günther honour the work of Professor Stephan Klasen, now severely ill, who has been one of the first researchers to put gender inequality on the academic and political agenda.

Cover des Buches "Economics of Gender Inequality" von Prof. Dr. Michael Grimm und Isabel Günther

Stephan Klasen is regarded as one of the most distinguished development economists of the 21st century. In the last 25 years, this professor from Göttingen has committed himself to understanding and changing the complex phenomenon of inequality between the sexes. Among other things, he has calculated the number of "missing women" – the number of women who have died as a result of gender discrimination or, indeed, were not even born in the first place because of gender-selective abortion. Professor Klasen puts this figure at 100 million worldwide.

"Professor Klasen was one of the first people to sensitise us to the fact that the whole of society suffers as a result of discrimination against women", says Professor Michael Grimm, holder of the chair of development economics at the University of Passau. He got to know Professor Klasen and hold him in high esteem during his time at the University of Göttingen (2003-2007): "As a researcher, Professor Klasen is an imposing personality – modest in the way he acts, but tireless in his efforts to combat social inequality."

Professor Klasen, from Göttingen, has assumed a pioneering role, putting the topic of gender inequality on both the academic and the political agenda as early as the 1990s. He has advised various international organisations, among them the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Development Programme of the United Nations, the World Bank and the OECD. In 2019, Professor Klasen had to retire prematurely from active teaching at the University of Göttingen. He suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and is severely restricted in his speech and mobility.

Continuing to fuel the debate on this topic

Ultimately, Professor Klasen's departure from active service was the motivation for Professor Grimm and Professor Günther, professor of development economics at the ETH Zürich, to bring out the omnibus "Economics of Gender Inequality". "We know that it's important to him to ensure that the debate about gender inequality is pursued", says Professor Grimm. This collection contains the twelve most important scientific papers by Professor Klasen on this subject.

"Stephan Klasen has shaped the way we think about the topic of global inequalities between men and women", says co-editress Professor Günther, who did her doctorate under Professor Klasen in 2007. "His research and teaching, and above all his deep concern and his commitment to making the world a more just place for everyone have made Stephan Klasen a leading personality in this field."

Prof. Dr. Michael Grimm, Inhaber des Lehrstuhls für Development Economics

Professor Michael Grimm

studies technological change in developing countries, among other topics

What are the measures that enable developing countries to participate in global market processes?

What are the measures that enable developing countries to participate in global market processes?

Professor Michael Grimm has held the Chair of Development Economics of the University of Passau since 2012. He is also one of the Principal Investigators of the DFG Research Training Group 2720 "Digital Platform Ecosystems (DPE)". Prior to this, he held the posts of Professor of Applied Development Economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam, Visiting Professor at Paris School of Economics and Advisor for the World Bank in Washington, D.C. (United States).

Figures relating to discrimination of women worldwide

It is, on the one hand, true that women's rights have improved worldwide in recent years. But women are still exposed to discrimination of many different kinds. To underline that fact, the publishers have put some striking figures on the cover of the book: more than 500 million women worldwide become victims of domestic violence. Every third girl is forced into marriage before the 18th year of her life. Women earn 20 per cent less than men on average, but they do three times as much unpaid care work and housework for the next generation. They occupy only 20 per cent of all the parliament seats worldwide.

Professor Klasen has been able to show that barring girls from attending school results in slower economic growth for everyone. Conversely, he has been able to prove that equal rights and increasing incomes worldwide have not led to a situation in which women participate more in working life. That remains a challenge in poor and rich countries alike.

'Economics of Gender Inequality' is aimed at researchers, political decision-makers and interested readers who wish to learn more about the worldwide inequality between men and women and its consequences and what can be done to combat it. The book is being published in English by the vdf Hochschulverlag and is available as an e-book from 8 March 2020 to mark International Women's Day:


From the foreword of 'Economics of Gender Inequality':

Stephan is a remarkable scholar and an even more remarkable man – and this is a remarkable book in his honor, gathering many of his key contributions to understanding and fighting gender inequalities.

Francisco H.G. Ferreira, World Bank, Washington D.C.

From the earliest moment that I met him to today, he has never wavered in his concern with the conditions of ordinary people, and with the need to use thought as an aid to the practical betterment of our collective conditions.

Sanjay Reddy, The New School for Social Research, New York

These papers are a testimony to Stephan’s originality and his role in drawing our attention to aspects of development economics that were quite neglected when he started writing on this topic. Stephan’s pioneering work deserves indeed our praise and admiration.

Jacques Silber, Bar-Ilan University

Before long Stephan Klasen emerged as the strongest and most clear-headed contributor to the subject of gender inequality and its policy implications. He influenced research in this whole area both through his writings and also through his guidance of the research of others – in Munich and in Göttingen particularly, but also in a number of other places which he visited – from New York to Johannesburg, from Harvard to the University of Cambridge … To see a person like Stephan Klasen alter the world of understanding and initiate big social changes is totally wonderful.

Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, Harvard University, Boston

More articles in the Research Magazine

Nasses Reisfeld bei schönem Wetter

What motivates Indonesian farmers to convert to organic farming in the long-term? A team of economists from the University of Passau is exploring whether digital technology and knowledge can help protect the environment and reduce poverty.


Cover des Buches "Economics of Gender Inequality" von Prof. Dr. Michael Grimm und Isabel Günther

To mark International Women's Day, 'Economics of Gender Inequality' about the work of Professor Stephan Klasen is being published on line. He has been one of the first researchers to put gender inequality on the academic and political agenda.

Gastforscherin Silla Akbari mit Mann Parwiz und Tochter Haya. Foto: Studio Weichselbaumer

Max Planck Fellow and legal scholar Suhailah Akbari is one of very few Afghan women who pursue a professorship career. During her stay at the University of Passau, she became a mother and successfully managed to combine family and research.

Playing the video will send your IP address to an external server.

Show video