Global Resources

Work and welfare: revisiting the linkages from a gender perspective

Author: S. Cook, S, Razavi
Publisher: Political and Social Economy of Care (UNRISD)
Publication Date: Dec 2012

This paper takes a gender perspective to examine the relationship between employment and social policy. It challenges key assumptions about the translation of patterns of growth into welfare outcomes that are made in most poverty- and inequality-reduction approaches. The paper argues that these approaches are fundamentally flawed due to their assumptions about the nature of labour markets and employment. 

Drawing on a range of heterodox economic and feminist analyses, a review of empirical evidence illustrates a persistence of gender hierarchies within paid and unpaid work, despite the convergence in women’s and men’s labour force participation rates. Additionally, it is shown that these gendered structures and processes limit women’s formal employment opportunities and weaken their labour force attachment, which in turn compromises their access to social security and protection. 

The paper concludes by drawing out some of the policy implications from the preceding analysis for more gender-egalitarian policy agendas and calls for rethinking labour markets to bring unpaid work, and particularly the reproductive sector, within the frameworks of analysis of the economy and markets. 

Adapted from authors’ summary.