Category: measurement and valuation of unpaid care work

Responsibility Time

If there was ever a time we urgently needed to know more about time use, that time has come. The Covid-19 pandemic utterly changed daily rhythms for many sequestered households and the “opening up” process closed down some old routines. I’ve done extensive work with time use data, have been in touch with several people/groups trying to measure the impact… Read more →

The Homemade Value-Added Stabilizer

“Shelter in place” mandates in the early stages of the U.S. Covid-19 pandemic required many people to stay home, cook their own meals, school their own children, and entertain themselves.  Unpaid work served not only as a social safety net, but also as an automatic stabilizer. While it didn’t dampen fluctuations in official Gross Domestic Product, as did unemployment insurance,… Read more →

What IS the Economy, Stupid

A lean, bald-pated, drawling political strategist from Louisiana named James Carville helped Bill Clinton win an election in 1992 by reminding campaign staff of the importance of “the economy, stupid.” A recession that year probably helped unseat George Bush the First. As another presidential election looms, we’re hearing the same drumbeat. An unemployment rate lower than most economists thought sustainable… Read more →

Quantifying Care

With help from many colleagues and research assistants, I have been badgering away at a report on design and harmonization issues for time-use surveys in developing countries. It  focuses on inconsistencies in the definition and measurement of direct care time across surveys (as well as larger problems) and on underestimation of the temporal constraints imposed by dependent care. It includes… Read more →

Care, Affluence, and Development

I am gearing up to attend the annual meetings of the Indian Society of Labour Economics in Mumbai, with support from the Canadian International Development Research Centre. This seems especially important to me because several South Asian scholars are doing important research on the mis-measurement of women’s work, including Indira Hirway  (sketch here, from the Mexico City Gender Statistics Conference),… Read more →

Developing Care

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada recently commissioned me to review some empirical research they have funded on  the care economy in developing countries. It was exciting to wade into field studies attentive to qualitative as well as quantitative indicators, with important policy implications. Many of the studies have experimental designs (such as examining the impact of child… Read more →

Work for Profit (or Not)

Most introductory economics texts assume that most of the work performed in the U.S. takes place in profit-maximizing firms. One important exception is Understanding Capitalism, by Samuel Bowles, Richard Edwards, and Frank Roosevelt, which has long observed that “commodified” work represents less than half of all work performed. Asked to help update this text, I came up with the pie chart… Read more →

In Defense of Valuation

I think that estimates of the market value of non-market work are a worthwhile exercise (as my last two posts suggest) as long as they are done carefully and presented as an approximate lower-bound. But conceptual resistance to valuation remains remarkably fierce–which is a big reason we don’t see more of it. One common objection is that estimation is just… Read more →