The economic case against unpaid domestic work

Anne Boring, Assistant Professor at Erasmus School of Economics
Erasmus School of Economics

In a recent article published on the website Quartz, Anne Boring, Assistant Professor at Erasmus School of Economics and Research Fellow for the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, looks at unpaid domestic work from an economic perspective.

Women spend about three to six hours a day on unpaid domestic work, where men spend an average of only half an hour a day on it. It is estimated that this unpaid work by women and girls has an economic value of 10.8 trillion dollars. Countries with good social services like Scandinavian countries and a few European countries all offer some form of universal childcare and socialised medical services that pay professional nurses for domestic work.

A related concern is that offering compensation for unpaid labour may lead to reinforcement of the conventional gender roles, reducing women's presence in the labour market. This is undesirable from both a social and equality perspective, Boring said. Moreover, the assistant professor notes that as long as there is a gender pay gap, women are more likely to do unpaid domestic work.

Finally, Boring argues that wages for care and domestic work are often low for another reason: these tasks have traditionally been performed largely by women. A similar situation crops up in similar "care professions".

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You can read the full article from Quartz, 27 September 2022, here

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