Women's well-being, poverty, and work intensity
High work intensity, as a result of doing two tasks at a time, is an important dimension of well-being. For many poor, working women, it represents a necessary means of coping when real wages fall, prices rise and basic services are cut. And yet existing standard-of-living measurements and household economic models fail to address this important dimension of time use. This paper argues that the lack of consideration of the length and intensification of work time is a serious neglect in the study of women's well-being.The first section of the paper examines the importance of time use as a determinant of the quality of life, particularly for working women. It also explores the relationship between poverty and work intensity or the simultaneous performance of two or more tasks. The theoretical implications of work intensity on household models are discussed in the second section of the paper. A household well-being function that incorporates both goods and time-use components as arguments is introduced in a single (working)-person household framework. When time use, particularly work intensity, is taken into account, the notion of joint production becomes relevant and subsequent complications arise. Finally, the need for reassessment of present time-use survey methods and of current policy evaluations is discussed in the concluding section of the paper. The seriousness of the effects of work intensity, particularly on women's health and children's well-being, strongly suggests that this qualitative dimension of time use deserves urgent attention from scholars and policy-makers.
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Volume (Year): 1 (1995)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
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