Informations and abstract
Keywords: austerity, social reproduction, surplus approach, well-being, gender budgets.
In this paper we put public budgets in the context of current neoliberal austerity policy, clarifying along the way a widespread confusion between budgets as accounting tools and budgets as policy. In so doing we use first the surplus approach (Smith, Ricardo, Marx and Sraffa), as an open, policy-oriented framework that can acknowledge social complexity and deal with the current tensions inherent in the functional distribution between financial capital and living conditions. This approach places the normal conventional costs of social reproduction of labour at the centre of the determination of wages, residual profits and of the analysis of capital as «necessary consumption». This allows us to take social expenditure out of its present analytical marginality. We then expand the analysis of wages, using Amartya Sen's well-being concept of standards of living as a multidimensional composite of «capabilities and functionings», i.e. as potential and effective individual «doings and beings». Finally, we go back to budgets to introduce the idea of Well-Being Gender Budgets as experimental accounting tools, able to reflect the complex relation between means - public resources - and ends - the well being of real women and men embedded in social contexts.