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The Political Economy of Care. What is care work and why is it important? Where do motivations for care come from and what are their consequences? How.

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Presentation on theme: "The Political Economy of Care. What is care work and why is it important? Where do motivations for care come from and what are their consequences? How."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Political Economy of Care

2 What is care work and why is it important? Where do motivations for care come from and what are their consequences? How are motivations for care linked to changing social norms of masculinity and femininity? Three Questions

3 The “care sector” of the economy has unique characteristics—both for workers and for consumers. Shift from the family to the market and the state has contradictory consequences for social inequalities and role of the welfare state. (a.k.a. dilemmas of patriarchal capitalism) Motivations for a “care movement” -- empowerment of women, fertility decline, but increased pressure on the quality of care services.

4 The American Heritage Dictionary gives two definitions of the verb that seem positive. 1. To be concerned or interested. 2. To provide needed assistance or watchful supervision. But as a noun, the definitions are rather negative: 1. A burdened state of mind, as that arising from heavy responsibilities; worry. 2. Mental suffering; grief. To be concerned or interested, it seems, is to assume a burden. cura soin cuida внимательность zorg π ροσοχή obacht What is Care?

5 Care Work Defined Direct care work involves provision of services to another person in a face-to-face or hands-on or first-name relationship that implies some emotional connection and concern for that person’s well being. Direct care work can be paid or unpaid, market or non-market, male or female. Recipients often dependents—but sometimes also healthy adults. Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation: not a dichotomy, but a continuum.

6 Historical Trends and Stylized Facts Increases in women’s labor force participation have been associated with a decline in time devoted to family care. Many women have moved into paid provision of care— teaching, nursing, child care and elder care. Non-market work remains quantitatively significant in all the advanced industrial countries.

7 HomemakersWomen inHomemakers as as % of allpaid jobs as% of all workers women workers% of all women workers %29.8%40.1% The Decline of Full-time Homemaking in the U.S.,

8 ProfessionalDomesticAgricultureManufacturing, Careand PersonalFishingMechanical, and ServicesServicesForestryConstruction %22.7% % 9.3% The Rise of Professional Care Service Industries in the United States (Employment by Industry as a Percentage of Total Employment)

9 Love, obligation, reciprocity, and pay—all sources of “utility.” Norms and preferences of care may be influenced by biology but they are also socially constructed and at least partially endogenous. Neither the workers who provide care (the “supply side”) nor the consumers who receive care (the “demand” side) behave in ways that fit the traditional model of neoclassical economic theory. Intrinsic AND extrinsic motivation.

10 Primarily seeking pecuniary reward Reciprocity or mutual obligation Motivated primarily by affection and concern Certain of own impersonal needs conventional market transactions some informal trade and barter some charity, volunteer work e.g. food bank Uncertain of own needs (info problems) some market transactions in health and education some informal trade, barter some paid care of dependents Needs personal connection (emo/warm glow) some market transactions in health and education friendships and intimate relationships among adults paid and unpaid care of dependents Worker Motivation Consumers

11 Market Failures limited consumer sovereignty (information problems, agency problems, monitoring problems) social preferences (altruism and obligation) endogenous preferences (emotional stickiness, cultural construction) coordination problems externalities

12 “Care” Promises Quality

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14 Intrinsically Motivated Care: Benefits for “Consumers” a.k.a. children, elderly, patients, students… General: High quality—long-term commitments and reduced need for monitoring; “incentive-enhancing preferences” Low cost—resulting from “compensating differentials” Specific: In short run, inelastic response to risk of poverty, stress, pay reduction, speed-up, deterioration in working conditions, or reduction in “payoff”

15 Prisoners of Love “I didn’t expect this and I didn’t want it, but my heart’s involved now.” (A grandmother, describing her care for her grandson.) “I love them. That’s all, you can’t help it.” (Paid caregivers, describing their feelings toward many of their clients.) The results rather more complicated than a “compensating differential.” Alone from night to night you’ll find me Too weak to break the chains that bind me, I need no shackles to remind me, I’m just a prisoner of love lyrics by Leo Robin, 1931

16 Liabilities for Workers (primarily women) General: “Costly” preferences, reduced bargaining power (hold-up) Specific: Increases likelihood of paternal abandonment and patriarchal control. Contributes to “double-day” for women working for pay. Encourages occupational segregation and “pay penalty” in jobs that require nurturance

17 Coordination Problem Specialization in caregiving is addictive and costly. Difficult to establish property rights over children or other public goods created by care. Bargains not enforceable; Caregivers can anticipate and seek to reduce their vulnerability.

18 Origins of Patriarchal Systems Patriarchal systems use physical force, property rights, and cultural norms to force women to “overspecialize” in care.

19 Capitalism Slowly Weakens Patriarchy… Wage employment is based on individual market work, not family work Both wage employment and fertility decline empower women. Women engage in collective political action.

20 but Remains Dependent on It… Caring for dependents cannot be completely shifted to the market. “Family wage” rules reinforce traditional gender norms and encourage breadwinner/homemaker family. The “welfare state” socializes at least some of the costs of caring for dependents. The nation-state takes on many of the responsibilities of the family: education, old-age security, and most recently, explicit subsidies for parents.

21 Capitalism Represents Itself as Masculine

22 And the “Nanny State” as Feminine Capitalism liberates caregivers but penalizes care. Women are offered an unpleasant choice: either take on disproportionate responsibilities for care, or don’t commit to caring relationships. Meanwhile, competition among countries (and regions), as well as firms, create pressures to lower the cost of care. “Welfare states” are described as soft, weak, and uncompetitive.

23 Family Policy: A Neoliberal Dilemma Capitalist institutions need families but would prefer not to pay for them. Coordination problem: how to prevent free-riding? Note analogy with natural environment: e.g. capitalism needs a stable climate, but would prefer not to pay for that either. International competition intensifies pressure to offload or externalize costs to non-market sectors.

24 Outsourcing?

25 Automation?

26 Changing Gender Norms Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree: “It is better if the man is the achiever and the woman takes care of home and family.” In 1977, 2/3 of Americans polled agreed. In 1998, about 1/3 agreed.

27 Does Buffy ever babysit? Xena, Warrior Princess, frozen in ice for twenty years after her daughter was born.

28 Kill Bill 2. Motherhood demands accommodation. But, in general, avoiding care responsibilities is easier than…

29 Norms of masculinity are changing, albeit rather slowly. Will labor market inequalities between men and women be replaced by inequalities between parents and non-parents?

30 “Defamilialization” Increases in women’s labor force participation have been associated with a decline in time devoted to family care. Many women have moved into paid provision of care— teaching, nursing, child care and elder care. Movement away from intrinsic toward more extrinsic motivation. Family care still quite important—what is likely to happen to it in the future? “Marketization”

31 GoodBad Efficiency (conventionally defined) choice and competition; economies of scale; performance-based rewards limited substitutability; reduced quality; dependents lack consumer sovereignty; monitoring problems Norms and Preferences more gender flexibility; shift from quantity to quality of children reduced supply of caring labor; more vulnerability for dependents Externalities fertility decline; greater gender equality below-replacement fertility greater class/race inequality Economic Implications of Defamilialization (and/or reduction in relative importance of intrinsic motivation)

32 Is there a way to reconfigure the care sector? public provision shared care in home empowerment of care workers

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