1 Unpaid Care Work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes OECD Development Centre, December 2014 By Ga lle Ferrant, Luca Maria Pesando and Keiko Nowacka Key messages Around the world, women spend two to ten times more time on Unpaid care work than men. This unequal distribution of caring responsibilities is linked to discriminatory social institutions and stereotypes on gender roles. Gender inequality in Unpaid care work is the missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes, such as labour force participation, wages and job quality Tackling entrenched gender norms and stereotypes is a first step in redistributing responsibilities for care and housework between women and men. Unpaid care work is both an important aspect of economic activity and an indispensable factor contributing to the well-being of individuals, their families and societies (Stiglitz et al.)
2 , 2007). Every day individuals spend time cooking, cleaning and caring for children, the ill and the elderly. Despite this importance for well-being, Unpaid care work is commonly left out of policy agendas due to a common misperception that, unlike standard market work measures, it is too difficult to measure and less relevant for policies. Yet, neglecting Unpaid care work leads to incorrect inferences about levels and changes in individuals well-being and the value of time, which in turn limit policy effectiveness across a range of socio-economic areas, notably gender inequalities in employment and other empowerment areas. Women typically spend disproportionately more time on Unpaid care work than men. On account of gendered social norms that view Unpaid care work as a female prerogative, women across different regions, socio-economic classes and cultures spend an important part of their day on meeting the expectations of their domestic and reproductive roles.
3 This is in addition to their paid activities, thus creating the double burden of work for women. How society and policy makers address issues concerning care has important implications for the achievement of gender equality: they can either expand the capabilities and choices of women and men, or confine women to traditional roles associated with femininity and motherhood (Razavi, 2007). The unequal distribution of Unpaid care work between women and men represents an infringement of women s rights (UN, 2013) and also a brake on their economic empowerment. This policy brief argues that gender inequality in Unpaid care work is the missing link that influences gender gaps in labour outcomes. The gender gap in Unpaid care work has significant implications for women s ability to actively take part in the labour market and the type/quality of employment opportunities available to them.
4 Time is a limited resource, which is divided between labour and leisure, productive and reproductive activities, paid and Unpaid work. Every minute more that a woman spends on Unpaid care work represents one minute less that she could be potentially spending on market -related activities or investing in her educational and vocational skills. 2 Issues Paper: Unpaid Care Work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes OECD 2014 Using time use data, this policy brief analyses the impact of gender gaps in time devoted to Unpaid care activities on gender gaps in labour outcomes. The first section provides an overview of gender inequalities in caring responsibilities. The second section shows that gender inequalities in Unpaid care work are related to gender gaps in labour outcomes, such as labour participation, wages and job quality.
5 The third sections assesses the key role of discriminatory social institutions for understanding gender inequalities in Unpaid care work. Finally, the fourth section proposes policy recommendations to lift the constraints on women s time by both reducing the burden of Unpaid care work borne by women as well as redistributing the caring responsibilities between women and men, and between the family and the State. 1. Gender inequalities in Unpaid care work Gender patterns in time devoted to Unpaid care work cut across geographic regions, household income and societies. Time use data offers an important snapshot of how gender roles shape the division of labour within a household and also put the spotlight on differences between both sexes. The day-to-day lives of women around the world share one important characteristic: Unpaid care work is seen as a female responsibility.
6 Across all regions of the world, women spend on average between three and six hours on Unpaid care activities, while men spend between half an hour and two hours (Figure 1). Hence gender inequalities in Unpaid care work are observed all around the world, even if there are regional variations (Figure 2). Overall, women spend more time on Unpaid care activities than men representing on average two to ten times that of men s. Women are more involved in terms of participation and time devoted to Unpaid care work. In Ethiopia, for example, the proportion of women collecting water and firewood (71% and 54%, respectively) is twice that of men (29% and 28%, respectively). In addition, the average duration of these activities are higher for women (more than seven hours for both) than for men (less than six hours and six and an half hours, respectively) (Su rez Robles, 2010).
7 Figure 1: Time spent on Unpaid care work varies by gender and region Note: This chart presents the average hours per day spent on Unpaid care work by women and men by regions of the world: Middle East and North Africa (MENA), South Asia (SA), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA), Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), East Asia and Pacific (EAP), Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and North America (NA). Source: OECD (2014), Gender, Institutions and Development Database . 3 Issues Paper: Unpaid Care Work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes OECD 2014 Moreover, the allocation of time to various Unpaid care activities varies across gender. In India, for example, men devote 36 minutes to Unpaid care responsibilities, out of which 36% goes into housework, with the remaining time spent on shopping, care for household members, and travel related to household activities.
8 Out of the six hours women devote to Unpaid care activities, the portion of time specifically spent on housework reaches 85%. Figure 2: Gender inequality in Unpaid care work varies by region and income Note: These charts present the female-to-male ratio of time devoted to Unpaid care activities by region and income group. Income groups are divided according to GNI per capita: low income, USD 1 035 or less; lower middle income, USD 1 036 USD 4 085; upper middle income, USD 4 086 USD 12 615; and high income, USD 12 616 or more. Source: World Bank (2014), World Development Indicators and OECD (2014), Gender, Institutions and Development Database. Gender inequality in Unpaid care work is also related to the wealth of a country. Time use data reveals a negative correlation between income and levels of gender inequalities in Unpaid care work: the distribution of responsibilities is the most equal in high income countries (Figure 2).
9 This is largely due to the fact that men in higher income countries are more engaged in care activities. Box 1: Definition of Unpaid care work Unpaid care work refers to all Unpaid services provided within a household for its members, including care of persons, housework and voluntary community work (Elson, 2000). These activities are considered work, because theoretically one could pay a third person to perform them. Unpaid = the individual performing this activity is not remunerated Care = the activity provides what is necessary for the health, well-being, maintenance, and protection of someone or something Work = the activity involves mental or physical effort and is costly in terms of time resources 4 Issues Paper: Unpaid Care Work: The missing link in the analysis of gender gaps in labour outcomes OECD 2014 2.
10 Unequal caring responsibilities explain gender gaps in labour outcomes The persistent gender gaps in labour force participation over the past few decades highlights the limitations of standard labour supply arguments, which neglect the role of social norms on women s ability to enter and remain in the labour market . A standard assumption is that increases in levels of female education and employability and decreasing fertility rates would automatically lead to increased levels of female labour force participation. Time spent on Unpaid care activities is also part of the labour supply equation. Box 2: Total working time of women in Ghana What does a typical day of a Ghanaian woman look like? Irrespective of her employment status) her marital status, age or income group, a typical Ghanaian woman works on average 13 hours per day.