The Contradictions of Coronavirus Fiscal Policy in the United States: Lessons from Feminist Political Economy

Abstract

Feminist political economy can elucidate how and why states may reluctantly assume the role of the social reproducer of last resort. This paper presents three ways to evaluate the role of the U.S. state in managing labor’s social reproduction, before and after the coronavirus pandemic. Prior to Covid-19, the responsibility for labor’s social reproduction had already shifted from capital onto labor and the state, both as a secular trend and as a result of economic crises. The coronavirus pandemic and recession will exacerbate this shift. In both relative and absolute terms, the U.S. state is responding more to the social reproduction crisis of lost incomes, than to the social reproduction crisis related to public health. The U.S. fiscal policy response to the coronavirus has re-articulated the privatized, commodified nature of U.S. social reproduction, and the individual household as the main unit of social reproduction.

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