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Economic growth, gendered division of labour and unpaid domestic services in historical perspective




This paper discusses the issue of including unpaid domestic services in Swedish historical national accounts. The paper analyses the period 1964-2000, based on the time use studies for 1964 and 2000/2001. During this period, in Sweden, the proportion between hours worked in unpaid domestic services and paid work, respectively, did not change to any substantial degree. However, a fundamental change in the gendered division of labour took place. Men substantially increased their share in unpaid domestic services and women substantially increased their share in paid worked. The inclusion of unpaid domestic services in historical national accounts changes our perception of long-term economic growth and structural change. For example, the increase in the relative size of services during the second half of the 20th century can largely be explained by the increasing rate of participation of women in the labour market. The paper finds that Swedish economic growth in the post-war period would most likely be lowered if unpaid domestic services would be included in GDP, but probably not more than by 0.1-0.3 percentage points per year.

Suggested Citation

  • Edvinsson, Rodney, 2009. "Economic growth, gendered division of labour and unpaid domestic services in historical perspective," Stockholm Papers in Economic History 4, Stockholm University, Department of Economic History.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:suekhi:0004

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    More about this item


    GDP; economic growth; feminist economics; gender; Sweden;

    JEL classification:

    • B54 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Feminist Economics
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-


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