Unpaid work like informal care, raising kids worth €215 billion per year: study
Unpaid domestic work, informal care, and care for children in the Netherlands have an economic value of 215 billion euros per year, according to researchers from the Institute of Public Economics. They calculated this after questions from writer and journalist Lynn Berger.
According to Berger, the calculation makes clear that many tasks that are often not seen as work today are essential for the functioning of today’s economy. In her book “Ik werk al (ik krijg er alleen niet voor betaald)” - I already work (I just don’t get paid for it), in English - which was published on Tuesday, she questions the plea for less part-time work as a solution to staff shortages.
“I want to show that this is also work and that it forms the basis for everything we do. But because we do not see it as paid work, it is increasingly under pressure,” the journalist for De Correspondent explained. She argues for more room for unpaid work.
“This can be done in the form of more time, for example. If you implement a full-time bonus as a government, the time you spend on that is at the expense of, for example, caring for your parents,” she said. “But it can also be, for example, more generously paid care leave, without losing too much in income or pension.”
According to Berger, the researchers calculated the economic scope of the unpaid work that many Netherlands residents do based on the minimum hourly wage, the hourly rate of childminders, and the compensation some informal carers receive. All collective household work then amounts to 170 billion euros. The care of children involves an amount of 15 billion euros, and informal care 30 billion euros.
“I asked the Institute for Public Economics to calculate it. Because if you express it in money, it becomes immediately clear what the value of something is,” Berger said. “It is about a quarter of the GDP. Then you see that it is really not all yoga, tea-drinking part-time princesses.”
She also pointed out the unequal distribution between men and women in care tasks that remain unpaid. That is primarily due to the basis of the Dutch government’s policy over the years.
“An ideal image emerged of the father, who worked full-time, and the mother, who cared full-time. Until the 1950s, women were fired when they got married. In the 1960s, feminism emerged, and then the government formally committed to part-time work because the women were also supposed to take care of the family,” Berger said. “You can see that policy is also needed to come up with a solution.”
Reporting by ANP