Global Resources

Why Should we Care about Unpaid Care Work?

Author: D. Budlender
Publisher: United Nations Development Fund for Women
Publication Date: Jan 2004
The failure of macroeconomic policies to acknowledge unpaid care work - such as housework, cooking, and caring for children, older people, and sick or disabled people - has a significant impact on women's lives. How can we ensure that unpaid care work is visible and accounted for in macro- and micro-level policy-making? This guidebook is written for non-economists and non-statisticians with the aim of better equipping them to influence the economists and statisticians who build the economic models on which much policy is made. It focuses in particular on the issue of unpaid care work in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean States, where the problem has been exacerbated by HIV and AIDS and cuts in the public health sector. The guide starts by defining unpaid care work and discussing the links between unpaid care work and poverty. It looks at the different types of work that women and men do, and examines what types of work are fully counted, partially counted and undercounted in standard statistical and economic systems. It also discusses statistical tools and methodologies for data collection, production and analysis of unpaid care work, and asks how we can measure and value this type of work so that it can be 'seen' by economists and considered in economic policy making. Finally, it discusses how unpaid care work can be inserted into national accounts (from which it is currently excluded), and outlines possibilities for advocacy work.