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Situation of unpaid work and gender in the Caribbean: The measurement of unpaid work through time-use studies

January 2014 | Studies and Perspectives – ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean
Publication cover
Corporate author:
  • NU. CEPAL. Sede Subregional para el Caribe
UN symbol.:
LC/L.3763
Pages:
47 p.; grafs., tabls.
Editorial:
ECLAC
Type:
Studies and Perspectives – ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean
Collection:
  • ECLAC Series
    • Studies and Perspectives – ECLAC Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean

Description

individuals spend their time, on a daily or weekly basis, is time-use surveys. These surveys take many
different forms to collect vital information which can be used to estimate not only the value of paid and
unpaid work, but also the composition of the labour force. The time-use survey is the only available tool
for measuring unpaid care work and is also a more cost effective method of collecting timely and accurate
data on the gender division of labour within households and the interdependence of the paid and unpaid
work undertaken by women and men. This data can be used to enhance the formulation of evidence based
policies for pro-poor growth towards the achievement of gender equality and poverty reduction.
While many countries in other regions, including Latin America have undertaken national timeuse
surveys, the Caribbean remains the only region yet to carry out a full scale survey. This is deemed to
be another one of the major data gap in statistical systems in the Caribbean, where the valuation of
unpaid work is statistically invisible. This is a serious omission because it means that unpaid work,
particularly unpaid care work, despite its important contribution to economic and social development, is
not reflected in the economic statistics used for policy making —namely the national accounts and the
official labour market statistics.
While definitions of care work vary, it can be described as a category of work which includes
activities carried out in the service of others, deemed crucial for human well being and economic
development (Razavi, 2007). Care work is often differentiated from other types of work because it is
intrinsically linked to labour undertaken out of a sense of duty, responsibility and love/affection, that is,
it is often viewed as an emotionally driven occupation. The unpaid care work performed primarily by
women, underpins all societies, contributing to well-being, social development and economic growth.
Care work, whether paid or unpaid provides vital services to assist with the development of capabilities
in human beings. It involves a variety of domestic tasks, such as the preparation of food, cleaning,
washing and ironing of clothes, the collection of water and fuel for cooking, as well as, the care of
mostly dependant family members, including children, older persons and persons with disabilities. Care
work is not only carried out immediate households, or for dependants, but also within communities. It is estimated that if unpaid care work were assigned a monetary value it would constitute
between 10 and 39 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). However, it is generally unrecognised
and under-valued by policymakers and legislators.

Table of contents

I. What are time-use surveys? .-- II. Rationale for measuring unpaid work .-- III. Measuring time use .-- IV. Defining unpaid work, care work and unpaid care work .-- V. Unpaid care work and social services .-- VI. Mandates for measuring time use .-- VII. Regional mandates .-- VIII. Subregional mandates .-- IX. The results of time-use studies .-- X. Policy and unpaid work in the Caribbean .-- XI. Conclusion.

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