Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: June 2014

18 - Confessions of a Wellesley FEM


I enrolled in my first economics course in 1963, my freshman year at Wellesley College, which was then, and still is, only for women. On the first day of class, my thirty freshman classmates and I eagerly awaited the arrival of our teacher. When she entered the classroom, she immediately announced that, as the chair of the department, she got to choose which section to teach, and she chose ours. Her intent was to share with us her excitement about the field and to send a signal that economics was very much an appropriate field for women. The teacher was Carolyn Shaw Bell, who later founded the American Economic Association’s Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession. That first course inspired me to join the ranks of Wellesley FEMs – her term for female economics majors. Little did I understand at the time the intellectual opportunities that were then opening up for me.

My Life History

I was raised as a provincial New Englander. My parents, all my grandparents, and many of my great-grandparents lived in New England, with most of them spending much of their lives in the Boston area. The men in the family all went to Harvard College, and my mother and two of my aunts went to Wellesley College in a Boston suburb. It was clear to me that Boston was the center of the universe, and for men a Harvard degree was the key to a successful life. When I was ready for college, the choice was obvious. I applied early decision to Wellesley, without considering any other place. Later when I was ready for graduate school, I applied only to Harvard.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO
Szenberg, Michael (ed.), Eminent Economists: Their Life Philosophies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992)
Ladd, Helen F., The Challenge of Fiscal Disparities for State and Local Governments: The Selected Essays of Helen F. Ladd (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 1999)
Tiebout, Charles M., “A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures,” Journal of Political Economy 64 (October 1956): 416–424.
Oates, Wallace H., “The Effects of Property Taxes and Local Public Spending on Property Values: An Empirical Study of Tax Capitalization and the Tiebout Hypothesis,” Journal of Political Economy 64 (October 1969): 416–424.
Mieszkowski, Peter, “The Property Tax: An Excise Tax or a Profits Tax?”Journal of Public Economics 1, no. 1 (April 1972): 73–96.
Bergstrom, T. C. and Goodman, R. P., “Private Demands for Public Goods,” American Economic Review 63, no. 3 (June 1973): 280–297;
Borcherding, T. E. and Deacon, R. T., “The Demand for the Services of Non-Federal Governments,” American Economic Review 62, no. 5 (December 1972): 891–901.
Ladd, Helen F., “The Role of the Property Tax: A Reassessment,” in Musgrave, R. A. (ed.), Broad Based Taxes: New Options and Sources (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, Committee for Economic Development, 1973)
Bradbury, Katherine L., Ladd, Helen F., Perrault, Mark, Reschovsky, Andrew, and Yinger, John, “State Aid to Offset Fiscal Disparities Across Communities,” National Tax Journal 37, no. 2 (June 1984): 151–170.
Ladd, Helen F. and Yinger, John M., “The Case for Equalizing Aid,” National Tax Journal 47, no. 1 (March 1994): 211–224.
Doolittle, Fred C. and Ladd, Helen F., “Which Level of Government Should Assist the Poor?National Tax Journal 35, no. 3 (September 1982): 322–336;
Ladd, Helen F., “The State Aid Decision: Changes in State Aid to Local Governments, 1982–87,” National Tax Journal 44, no. 4, pt. 2 (December 1991): 477–496.
Ladd, Helen F., “State Responses to the TRA86 Revenue Windfalls: A New Test of the Flypaper Effect,” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 12, no. 1 (Winter 1993): 82–103.
Ladd, Helen F., “An Economic Evaluation of State Limitations on Local Taxing and Spending Powers,” National Tax Journal 31, no. 1 (March 1993): 1–18.
Bradbury, Katherine L., Ladd, Helen F., and Christopherson, Claire, “Proposition 2 1/2: Initial Impacts, Part I” and “Proposition 2 1/2: Initial Impacts: Part II,” New England Economic Review (January/February, March/April 1982)
Ladd, Helen F. and Tideman, Nicolaus (eds.), Tax and Expenditure Limitations (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 1981)
Ladd, Helen F. (primary author), Local Government Tax and Land Use Policy in the U.S.: Understanding the Links (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 1998)
Ladd, Helen F., “School Vouchers: A Critical View,” Journal of Economic Perspectives (November 2002)
Fiske, Edward B. and Ladd, Helen F., When Schools Compete: A Cautionary Tale (Washington DC: Brookings Institution, 2000)
Fiske, Edward B. and Ladd, Helen F., Elusive Equity: Education Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2004)
Ladd, Helen F., “Spatially Targeted Economic Development Strategies: Do They Work?”Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research 1, no. 1 (August 1994): 193–218.