Gender and Care Work

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Program Director: Nancy Folbre

PERI's program on Gender and Care Work aims to develop a unified picture of the "care sector" of the economy with attention to the changing roles of the family, the market, and the state. It emphasizes both the contributions that care work makes to economic growth and its implications for inequality between men and women. It calls attention to the similarities and differences between care provided in paid employment and that provided in partnership with family members, friends, and neighbors. It also urges policy makers to consider changes in the social organization and finance of care that could enhance human capabilities and improve economic efficiency. 

Read Interview with Nancy Folbre on PERI's Gender and Care work.

Read "Care Talk" blog.

Indian Society of Labour Economics

Indian Society of Labour Economics Meeting Features Talks by Ela Bhatt and Nancy Folbre

The highlight of the 60th annual meetings of the Indian Society of Labour Economics in Mumbai in late December 2018 was a presentation by Ela Bhatt, founder of the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) (quick sketch of Bhatt by Nancy Folbre shown here). This unique international trade union has helped organize and empower low-income women around the globe.

The meetings also included a lecture by PERI's Nancy Folbre on Care and the Labour Market, focusing on similarities and differences between the U.S. and developing countries such as India. A surprising fact: time-use surveys suggest that both men and women devote a greater percentage of their total work time to unpaid work in the U.S. than in India. This pattern is partly the result of differences in demographic composition: both college students and retirees make up a larger percentage of the population in the U.S. Still, it is surprising to most people to learn that about half of all work time in the U.S. takes place outside the labor market, compared to 39% in India.

Heterodox Economics at Allied Social Science Meetings

Nancy Folbre Praises "Big Tent" of Heterodox Economics at Allied Social Science Meetings

Nancy Folbre spoke on "Institutions, Intersections, and Patriarchal Systems" at a plenary session of the Association for Social Economics at the Allied Social Science Meetings in Atlanta on January 3. Her remarks praised the "big tent" of heterodox economics, emphasized the links between institutionalist approaches and feminist theory, and called for more attention to the ways in which social institutions both reflect and shape collective power.

Valuing Women's Paid Care Work

Valuing Women's Paid Care Work: From Research to Public Policy

Women's paid care work is important to families and communities, and our economy could not function without it. Yet many workers who provide care to children and the elderly receive low wages, inadequate benefits, and have limited access to training and advancement. At a recent event at the Massachusetts State House sponsored by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, Nancy Folbre, the director of PERI's Program on Gender and Care Work, addressed the ways in which research can inform the development of public policies that value paid care work.

The Economics of Care

In this interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Nancy Folbre outlines "care," a vast category that crosses the boundaries between the economic and the noneconomic, the public and the private. Some 26 million people provide unpaid health care services in households. Commercial care is increasing, in part because of the aging of the population and the increased participation of women in the labor market. Children, the sick and the elderly still need to be looked after, and there are fewer people at home to look after them. Conditions of work in the care industries are poor, with low pay and little training; fewer than half of all child-care workers receive full health insurance, for themselves or their own children. The quality of care is also often poor; some 40 percent of nursing homes repeatedly fail health and safety inspections. But care is significantly undervalued, particularly in an economic sense, Folbre argues, in both the household and in the labor market.

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