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Surveys on time use and unpaid work in Latin America and the Caribbean: Experience to date and challenges for the future

December 2013|ECLAC Series » Gender Affairs
Publication cover
Corporate author:
  • NU. CEPAL. División de Asuntos de Género
  • NU. Cuenta Especial de las Naciones Unidas para el Desarrollo
UN symbol.: LC/L.3678 92 p.; grafs. Editorial: CEPAL December 2013


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.

Table of contents

Introduction .-- I. Where does unpaid work stand in current debates on
well-being? .-- II. Experience with surveys on time use and unpaid work in
the region .-- III. Analysis of recent national experience .-- IV. Looking to the future.

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