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Unpaid Work: From Recognition to Transformation by Diane Elson, Levy Economics Institute and University of Essex Presentation to Hawke Research Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Unpaid Work: From Recognition to Transformation by Diane Elson, Levy Economics Institute and University of Essex Presentation to Hawke Research Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 Unpaid Work: From Recognition to Transformation by Diane Elson, Levy Economics Institute and University of Essex Presentation to Hawke Research Institute University of South Australia

2 2 Questions Is it enough to recognize the economic and social value of unpaid work? Or do we also have to transform the social relations of unpaid work?

3 3 Formal paid work Informal Work Paid and unpaid Formal paid work Volunteer work Business sector Household Sector Non profit institutions Public Sector Formal paid work Unpaid work Subsistence Work Care Work Unpaid Work and the Market Economy Good and services and monetary flows Labour Services Informal work Paid and unpaid Paid work

4 4 Recognition of Unpaid Work Time Spent Monetary Valuation Social relations of unpaid work Unpaid work as creation and depletion of well-being

5 5 Time Spent on Unpaid Work in Britain, 1999 Average Minutes per Day, population over 16 years Providing Housing46 Providing Nutrition48 Providing Clothing13 Providing Care28 Voluntary Work11 Shopping & Appointments Gardening & Pet Care Travel48 Total282 Source: Short, 2000, Office of National Statistics, London

6 6 Time Spent on Unpaid Work in South Africa, 2000 Average Minutes per Day, Population 10 years and above Household Maintenance (including cooking, cleaning, etc.) Care Community Service 154 Source: Budlender and Brathaug, 2005, Table 2

7 7 Time Spent on Unpaid Work in India, 1998/9 (combined average from 6 selected states) Average Minutes per Day, Population 6 years and above Unpaid Domestic Services (extended SNA) 160 Source: Calculated from Chakraborty, 2005, Table 3

8 8 Monetary Valuation of Unpaid Work Value of unpaid work excluded from GDP as percentage of GDP UK 77% (output method, gross value-added by households as % of GDP minus imputed rent) South Africa, % to 50% (input method, varying wage rates) India, 1998/9 (for 6 states) 26% to 50% (varying by state) (input method, global substitute wage) Sources: UK: Office for National Statistics, South Africa: Bulender and Brathaug, 2005 India: Chakraborty,

9 9 Unpaid Work Included in GDP In principle, measurement of GDP includes subsistence production, including food processing, collecting water and fuel, in countries where these are substantial activities In practice, GDP measures do not fully cover this unpaid work Time Spent Collecting Water (average daily minutes) South Africa, India41 (excluding travel time) Sources: South Africa: Calculated from Charmes, 2005, Table 6 India: Calculated from Chakraborty, 2005 Table 6

10 10 Reinforcing Patriarchy Unequal division of paid and unpaid work Disadvantages of specializing in unpaid work – financial dependence Coercion, abuse and unpaid work

11 11 Unequal Division of Unpaid Work Average Minutes per Day by Sex TotalMaleFemaleF-M UK South Africa India Sources: UK: Calculated from Short, 2000, Table 2 South Africa: Budlender and Brathaug, 2005, Table 2 India: Calculated from Chakraborty, Table 3

12 12 Disadvantages of Specializing in Unpaid Work, UK Examples Over 1/2 a million more women than men are living in poverty Women receive an average of just 54 pence for every 1 pound received by men Following divorce, a womans income is likely to decline by nearly 1/5, a mans income changes little 26% of employees work part- time, of these, 79% are women. Part-time jobs are low-paid and lack pension benefits Hourly pay of women working part-time is 40% less than hourly pay of men working full-time Only 13% of todays women pensioners are entitled to the full basic state pension, compared to 92% of men Source: Bellamy and Rake, 2005

13 13 Disadvantages of Specializing in Unpaid Work, South Africa and India Concentration in informal employment In South Africa, poverty rates of households headed by women, and in those in which the primary earner is female, are higher than in households headed by men, and in those in which the primary earner is male In India, in the mid 90s, a higher proportion of adult females than of males, lived in poverty Sources: South Africa: Chen et al., 2005, Table 3.12 India: Banerjee, 2000, quoted in Elson and Keklik, 2002

14 14 Subsidizing Private Profit Directly, via the Labor Market Reducing the wage costs of social reproduction Reconciling workers to the capitalist labor process – enabling them to feel like human beings in a system that treats them like commodities (Picchio, 1992) Indirectly, via the State Reducing public expenditure And hence, reducing taxation Providing the Ultimate Safety Net Unpaid work as a buffer

15 15 Unpaid Work and Public Expenditure Womens unpaid work funds public programs Peru –Women run a public food distribution program –Valued at the minimum wage, their contribution amounts to 20% of the budget for the program Netherlands –Women volunteer extensively in public schools and hospitals South Africa and Barbados –Government funding does not cover full costs of running shelters for women subjected to domestic violence –NGOs, relying partly on voluntary labor, cover the gap Source: Elson, forthcoming

16 16 Unpaid Work subsidizes health systems Improving the efficiency of public hospitals in Canada and the UK Home-based care for people living with HIV/AIDS in Africa –Ethiopia: Women spend 33.6 hours a week in agricultural production in households not affected by AIDS, but between 11.6 and 16.4 hours in households affected by AIDS (Bollinger, et al. 1999) –Zimbabwe: Unpaid household carers provided 17.5 – 24.5 hours of care per week. Estimated opportunity cost was $22 a month (Hansen, et al. 1994)

17 17 Dilemma: How to Recognize and Value Unpaid Work Without Reinforcing Patriarchy and Subsidizing Businesses and Governments? Income tax Income transfers related to children Regulations and subsidies for parental leave

18 18 Income Tax Should tax systems recognize the value of unpaid work by providing taxpayers with allowances for non-earning dependents who do unpaid work at home? Should tax systems instead provide households with tax allowances/credits to cover some of the costs of purchasing substitutes for unpaid work? If tax allowances/credits are related to childcare costs, how can the system be designed in ways that do not reinforce the idea that child care is solely the mothers responsibility?

19 19 Regulations and Subsidies for Parental Leave Should we call for the right to longer maternity leave? Or the right to longer paternity leave, on a use it or lose it basis? How should parental leave be funded? Should it be funded on a flat rate or earnings related basis?

20 20 Key Challenges Transforming unpaid work not just recognizing it Sharing it equally between women and men Supporting it by laws and public funding Treating it as wealth-creating by businesses

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