What Do We Learn When We "Count Women's Work?"

by National Transfers Account Project

NTA Bulletin, No. 13

Publisher: Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, National Transfer Accounts
Publication Date: March 2018
Binding: paper
Pages: 4
Free Download: PDF


Standard measures of economic activity leave out one extremely important component of production and consumption―the unpaid care and household services most often provided by women. Unpaid services―such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for children and the elderly―add considerable value both to family welfare and to national economic output. Adding unpaid services to measures of economic activity shows that women are not an "untapped" source of labor. Policymakers looking to increase female participation in the formal labor market need to keep in mind that women are already working as much or more than men. In some societies, the time that adolescent girls and young women spend on unpaid housework may be limiting the time they have available to pursue an education. Taking account of unpaid care and housework substantially increases the cost of raising children but also shows that the elderly, who often contribute substantially to care and housework, are not as heavy a burden on their families as sometimes suggested.