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Cooking, Caring and Volunteering: Unpaid Work Around the World


  • Veerle Miranda



Household production constitutes an important aspect of economic activity and ignoring it may lead to incorrect inferences about levels and changes in well-being. This paper sheds light on the importance of unpaid work by making use of detailed time-use surveys for 25 OECD member countries and 3 emerging economies. The calculations suggest that between one-third and half of all valuable economic activity in the countries under consideration is not accounted for in the traditional measures of well-being, such as GDP per capita. In all countries, women do more of such work than men, although to some degree balanced – by an amount varying across countries – by the fact that they do less market work. While unpaid work – and especially the gender division of unpaid work – is to some extent related to a country’s development level, country cross-sectional data suggest that demographic factors and public policies tend to exercise a much larger impact. The regular collection of time-use data can thus be of tremendous value for government agencies to monitor and design public policies, and give a more balanced view of well-being across different societies. La production des ménages constitue un aspect important de l’activité économique et sa non prise en compte risquerait d’aboutir à des conclusions erronées concernant les niveaux de bien-être et leurs variations. Ce document met en lumière l’importance du travail non rémunéré en utilisant des enquêtes détaillées sur l’utilisation du temps dans 25 pays membres de l’OCDE et 3 économies émergentes. Les calculs montrent qu’une part comprise entre le tiers et la moitié de la totalité de l’activité économique utile dans les pays examinés n’est pas prise en compte dans les indicateurs traditionnels du bien-être tels que le PIB par tête. Dans tous les pays, les femmes effectuent davantage de travaux de cette nature que les hommes, bien que ce fait soit compensé dans une certaine mesure – dans des proportions qui varient selon les pays – par le fait qu’elles offrent moins de services marchands. Bien que les travaux non rémunérés – et plus particulièrement la répartition de ces travaux entre les deux sexes – soient liés dans une certaine mesure au niveau de développement, des données transversales portant sur les différents pays montrent que les facteurs démographiques et les politiques publiques ont en général une incidence beaucoup plus importante. La collecte périodique de données concernant l’utilisation du temps peut donc présenter un intérêt considérable pour les organismes publics en leur permettant d’assurer le suivi et la conception des politiques publiques et en donnant une image plus équilibrée du bien-être dans les différentes sociétés.

Suggested Citation

  • Veerle Miranda, 2011. "Cooking, Caring and Volunteering: Unpaid Work Around the World," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 116, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:elsaab:116-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Hélène Couprie & Elisabeth Cudeville & Catherine Sofer, 2015. "Efficiency versus Stereotypes: an Experiment in Domestic Production," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 15025, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    2. Rianne Mahon, 2013. "Social Investment According to the OECD/DELSA: A Discourse in the Making," Global Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 4(2), pages 150-159, May.
    3. Mann, Stefan & Wüstemann, Henry, 2012. "The fading scope of labour – remarks about the lost rationale of a common term," MPRA Paper 39401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Olivier Thévenon & Angela Luci, 2012. "Reconciling Work, Family and Child Outcomes: What Implications for Family Support Policies?," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer;Southern Demographic Association (SDA), vol. 31(6), pages 855-882, December.
    5. Uchida, Hirotsugu & Onozaka, Yuko & Morita, Tamaki & Managi, Shunsuke, 2014. "Demand for ecolabeled seafood in the Japanese market: A conjoint analysis of the impact of information and interaction with other labels," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 68-76.
    6. Del Carpio, Ximena & Nguyen, Ha & Wang, Liang Choon, 2012. "Does the minimum wage affect employment ? evidence from the manufacturing sector in Indonesia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6147, The World Bank.
    7. repec:feu:wfewop:y:2013:m:9:d:0:i:13 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Thomas Anderson & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2015. "Low Fertility, Socioeconomic Development, and Gender Equity," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 41(3), pages 381-407, September.
    9. repec:eee:joecag:v:5:y:2015:i:c:p:86-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Xiao-yuan Dong & Xinli An, 2015. "Gender Patterns and Value of Unpaid Care Work: Findings From China's First Large-Scale Time Use Survey," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 61(3), pages 540-560, September.
    11. Subha Mani, 2014. "Socioeconomic Determinants of Child Health: Empirical Evidence from Indonesia," Asian Economic Journal, East Asian Economic Association, vol. 28(1), pages 81-104, March.
    12. Kar-Fai Gee, 2015. "Development of Estimates for Household Production of Non-Market Services in OECD Countries for the Index of Economic Well-Being," CSLS Research Reports 2015-09, Centre for the Study of Living Standards.
    13. Thor O. Thoresen & Trine Engh Vattø, 2017. "An Up-to-Date Joint Labor Supply and Child Care Choice Model," CESifo Working Paper Series 6641, CESifo Group Munich.
    14. Subha Mani, 2013. "Socioeconomic Determinants of Child Health - Empirical Evidence from Indonesia," Fordham Economics Discussion Paper Series dp2013-07, Fordham University, Department of Economics.
    15. Bernhard Hammer & Alexia Prskawetz & Inga Freund, 2014. "Reallocation of Resources Across Age in a Comparative European Setting," WWWforEurope Working Papers series 13, WWWforEurope.
    16. Delanoë, Daniel & Hajri, Selma & Bachelot, Annie & Mahfoudh Draoui, Dorra & Hassoun, Danielle & Marsicano, Elise & Ringa, Virginie, 2012. "Class, gender and culture in the experience of menopause. A comparative survey in Tunisia and France," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 401-409.
    17. Lili Vargha & Róbert Iván Gál & Michelle O. Crosby-Nagy, 2017. "Household production and consumption over the life cycle: National Time Transfer Accounts in 14 European countries," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 36(32), pages 905-944, March.
    18. International Monetary Fund, 2015. "Hungary; Selected Issues," IMF Staff Country Reports 15/93, International Monetary Fund.
    19. Sophie Ponthieux, 2014. "L’inégalité des revenus d’activité et les niveaux de vie des femmes et des hommes - Une comparaison entre cinq pays de l’Union européenne," Économie et Statistique, Programme National Persée, vol. 469(1), pages 85-119.
    20. Naidu, Sirisha C., 2011. "Rural Livelihoods, Forest Access and Time Use: A Study of Forest Communities in Northwest India," MPRA Paper 31060, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    21. Adema, Willem, 2012. "Setting the scene: The mix of family policy objectives and packages across the OECD," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 487-498.
    22. repec:feu:wfewop:y:2013:m:7:d:0:i:13 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J22 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Time Allocation and Labor Supply

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