The enduring debate over unpaid labour Lourdes BENERÍA Maxim Kosyakov, Julia Marchevsky Gender & Globalization, HWR Berlin
Introduction & Background• Underestimation of women’s work in labour force and national accounting statistics• effort to account for women’s work has gradually evolved to include all unpaid work by whomever it is performed (men, women, children).
Is it ok to have unpaid work?Discussion question
Accounting for unpaid work• Unpaid work is still substantially underestimated in national and international statistics on the labour force, GNP, and national income.• The story of the decrease in GNP when a man marries his housekeeper• “Work” has been defined, both in theory and in conventional statistics, as a paid economic activity linked to the market.
Do you agree that “work” is a paid economic activitylinked to the market?Discussion question
The subsistence sector• Estimation the value of subsistence production and the proportion of the population engaged in it (1950s)• “economically active population” (1982)• Subsistence production represents “marketable goods”.• boundaries between agricultural and domestic work can be difficult to trace
The subsistence sector (1)• classifying workers according to their “main occupation”. (ILO)• “female unpaid family workers were, to a very large extent, not recorded” (ILO, 1977)• As a result national statistics regarding women’s work are unreliable or non-existent and it is very difficult to make meaningful international comparisons
Do you agree that “women’s place is in the home”?Discussion question
The informal sector• Difficulties of obtaining reliable statistics• Conceptual and methodological guidelines for the measurement of women’s work in the informal sector — including industry and services (UN)• The objective of effort is to facilitate policy design and action to improve the working conditions of informal sector workers and to strengthen their bargaining power
Is there importance of information-gathering effortaccording to the informal sector?Discussion question
Domestic work• Domestic production and related activities are falling outside the conventional definition of work.• Exclusion was not much questioned until the late 1970s• Significant increase in self-help activities performed by men.• The exclusion affects mostly but not exclusively women’s work.
Is it ok to exclude the domestic production from theGNP statistics?Discussion question
Volunteer work• The wide range of tasks carried out in the charitable sector and the fact that these tasks are not directly linked to the market create problems for their measurement.• Volunteer work is often of a professional nature (health sector)• Volunteer work correlates with income
Is volunteer work only for womens?Discussion question
Conclusion of 1st part• First, it required the refinement of categories and the improvement of data collection in those areas of paid work that were, in theory at least, included in conventional statistics.• Second, it was the result of the need to rethink and redefine the concept of work and to develop ways of measuring unpaid work mostly involving domestic and volunteer work.
Progress on the conceptual front• development of accounts that to permit the generation of “augmented” estimates of GNP• Third-party principle, according to which domestic production refers to unpaid activities that can be performed by a third person for pay• inclusion tasks that contribute to social reproduction and the maintenance of the labour force which are not connected with market.
Progress on the theoretical front• New Household Economics• Feminists approach• In order to design policy and action more effectively
Progress on methodology• Two main approaches to measuring the value of domestic work• Usefulness of Input vs. output methods
Emergence of new issues• New questions about the links between paid and unpaid work• Increasing role of women in the paid labour force has reinforced the importance of the distribution of paid and unpaid work• 35-hour week
Is it ok that current GNP statistics include what is badfor our health and excludes domestic work, volunteerwork etc?Discussion question
Useless effort• “The waste-of-time argument”• Effort to account for unpaid work must be viewed not as an end in itself but as a means to understand who contributes to human welfare and development
The importance of “difference”• Domestic and unpaid caring work is very different from market work• Domestic labour can be projected on to other activities outside the household, including market activity
Theoretically misguided• The monetary imputation of unpaid work “is not consistent with present conceptions of the theory of value in economics• Feminists have called for and suggested gender-aware policies
Is attempts to measure unpaid work is waste-of-timeprocess?Discussion question
Conclusion• how to identify those who contribute• the best policies to overcome poverty can be designed• Feminist economists have emphasized the need to construct models other than those based on the market-oriented motives of rational economic man.