Most economic and labour studies focus on work in the market, leaving aside the great number of activities dedicated to personal, family and social well-being. In recent decades, many researchers have criticized the main thrust of employment studies that assimilate work with a paid activity performed for the market, demonstrating that paid participation in the production of goods and services is not enough to satisfy human needs and to preserve social cohesion.
For several decades now, time use studies have provided a mass of information on the manner in which people use their time, contributing data on the unequal distribution of total work, both paid and unpaid, between women and men, and they can be used in turn to calculate the economic value that unpaid work time contributes to economies. This allows us to formulate policies that will address social needs in terms of care-giving through social co-responsibility, translating responsibilities from the family to the public and the private sphere. Experience in the region indicates a promising path for moving forward both in terms of political impact, with a view to placing the issue firmly on the public agenda, and in the production of new knowledge that will improve the design of instruments and deepen the analysis of available information.