Research Topics

Publications on Unpaid work

There are 10 publications for Unpaid work.
  • Measuring Poverty in the Case of Buenos Aires

    Working Paper No. 865 | May 2016
    Why Time Deficits Matter

    We describe the production of estimates of the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP) for Buenos Aires, Argentina, and use it to analyze the incidence of time and income poverty. We find high numbers of hidden poor—those who are not poor according to the official measure but are found to be poor when using our time-adjusted poverty line. Large time deficits for those living just above the official poverty line are the reason for this hidden poverty. Time deficits are unevenly distributed by employment status, family type, and especially gender. Simulations of the impact of full-time employment on those households with nonworking (for pay) adults indicate that reductions in income poverty can be achieved, but at the cost of increased time poverty. Policy interventions that address the lack of both income and time are discussed.

  • The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and Measuring Gender Inequality

    Working Paper No. 859 | February 2016
    A Technical Articulation for Asia-Pacific

    Against the backdrop of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development, this paper analyzes the measurement issues in gender-based indices constructed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and suggests alternatives for choice of variables, functional form, and weights. While the UNDP Gender Inequality Index (GII) conceptually reflects the loss in achievement due to inequality between men and women in three dimensions—health, empowerment, and labor force participation—we argue that the assumptions and the choice of variables to capture these dimensions remain inadequate and erroneous, resulting in only the partial capture of gender inequalities. Since the dimensions used for the GII are different from those in the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), we cannot say that a higher value in the GII represents a loss in the HDI due to gender inequalities. The technical obscurity remains how to interpret GII by combining women-specific indicators with indicators that are disaggregated for both men and women. The GII is a partial construct, as it does not capture many significant dimensions of gender inequality. Though this requires a data revolution, we tried to reconstruct the GII in the context of Asia-Pacific using three scenarios: (1) improving the set of variables incorporating unpaid care work, pay gaps, intrahousehold decision making, exposure to knowledge networks, and feminization of governance at local levels; (2) constructing a decomposed index to specify the direction of gender gaps; and (3) compiling an alternative index using Principal Components Index for assigning weights. The choice of countries under the three scenarios is constrained by data paucity. The results reveal that the UNDP GII overestimates the gap between the two genders, and that using women-specific indicators leads to a fallacious estimation of gender inequality. The estimates are illustrative. The implication of the results broadly suggests a return to the UNDP Gender Development Index for capturing gender development, with an improvised set of choices and variables.

  • The Impact of Public Investment in Social Care Services on Employment, Gender Equality, and Poverty

    Research Project Report, August 2015 | September 2015
    The Turkish Case

    Produced in partnership with the International Labour Organization, United Nations Development Programme, and UN Women, this report examines the demand-side rationale for a public investment in the social care sector—specifically, early childhood care and preschool education (ECCPE)—by comparing its potential for job creation, pro-women allocation of jobs, and poverty reduction with an equivalent investment in the construction sector.

    The authors find that a public investment of 20.7 billion TRY yields an estimated 290,000 new jobs in the construction sector and related sectors. However, an equal investment in ECCPE creates 719,000 new jobs in ECCPE and related sectors, or 2.5 times as many jobs. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of the ECCPE jobs go to women, whereas a mere 6 percent of new jobs go to women following an expansion of the construction sector.

    ECCPE expansion is also shown to be superior in terms of the number of decent jobs (i.e., jobs with social security benefits) created: some 85 percent of new ECCPE jobs come with social security benefits, compared to the slightly more than 30 percent of construction jobs that come with equivalent benefits. Both expansions are found to benefit the poor, with an ECCPE expansion targeting prime-working-age poor mothers of small children showing the potential to reduce the relative poverty rate by 1.14 percentage points. In terms of fiscal sustainability, an ECCPE expansion is estimated to recoup 77 percent of public expenditures through increased government revenues, while construction recovers roughly 52 percent.

    The report concludes that in addition to supply-side effects, there is a robust demand-side rationale for expanded funding of ECCPE, with clear benefits in terms of decent employment creation, gender equality, poverty alleviation, and fiscal sustainability. These findings have important implications for expanded public investment in the broader social care sector as a strategy that embraces gender budgeting while promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

  • Unpaid Work and the Economy

    Working Paper No. 838 | May 2015
    Linkages and Their Implications

    Unpaid work, which falls outside of the national income accounts but within the general production boundary, is viewed as either “care” or as “work” by experts. This work is almost always unequally distributed between men and women, and if one includes both paid and unpaid work, women carry much more of the burden of work than men. This unequal distribution of work is unjust, and it implies a violation of the basic human rights of women. The grounds on which it is excluded from the boundary of national income accounts do not seem to be logical or valid. This paper argues that the exclusion reflects the dominance of patriarchal values and brings male bias into macroeconomics.

    This paper shows that there are multiple linkages between unpaid work and the conventional macroeconomy, and this makes it necessary to expand the boundary of conventional macroeconomics so as to incorporate unpaid work. The paper presents the two approaches: the valuation of unpaid work into satellite accounts, and the adoption of the triple “R” approach of recognition, reduction, and reorganization of unpaid work, recommended by experts. However, there is a need to go beyond these approaches to integrate unpaid work into macroeconomics and macroeconomic policies. Though some empirical work has been done in terms of integrating unpaid work into macro policies (for example, understanding the impacts of macroeconomic policy on paid and unpaid work), some sound theoretical work is needed on the dynamics of the linkages between paid and unpaid work, and how these dynamics change over time and space. The paper concludes that the time has come to recognize that unless unpaid work is included in macroeconomic analyses, they will remain partial and wrong. The time has also come to incorporate unpaid work into labor market analyses, and in the design of realistic labor and employment policies.

    Associated Program:

  • How Poor Is Turkey? And What Can Be Done About It?

    Public Policy Brief No. 132, 2014 | May 2014
    Gauging the severity of poverty in a given country requires a reasonably comprehensive measurement of whether individuals and households are surpassing some basic threshold of material well-being. This would seem to be an obvious point, and yet, in most cases, our official poverty metrics fail that test, often due to a crucial omission. In this policy brief, Senior Scholar Ajit Zacharias, Research Scholar Thomas Masterson, and Research Associate Emel Memiş  present an alternative measure of poverty for Turkey and lay out the policy lessons that follow. Their research reveals that the number of people living in poverty and the severity of their deprivation have been significantly underestimated. This report is part of an ongoing Levy Institute project on time poverty (the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty), which has produced research on Latin America, Korea, and now Turkey, with the aim of extending this approach to other countries.

  • Time Deficits and Poverty

    Research Project Report, May 2014 | May 2014
    The Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty for Turkey

    Official poverty lines in Turkey and other countries often ignore the fact that unpaid household production activities that contribute to the fulfillment of material needs and wants are essential for the household to reproduce itself as a unit. This omission has consequences. Taking household production for granted when measuring poverty yields an unacceptably incomplete picture, and therefore estimates based on such an omission provide inadequate guidance to policymakers.

    Standard measurements of poverty assume that all households and individuals have enough time to adequately attend to the needs of household members—including, for example, children. These tasks are absolutely necessary for attaining a minimum standard of living. But this assumption is false. For numerous reasons, some households may not have sufficient time, and they thus experience what are referred to as “time deficits.” If a household officially classified as nonpoor has a time deficit and cannot afford to cover it by buying market substitutes (e.g., hire a care provider), that household will encounter hardships not reflected in the official poverty measure. To get a more accurate calculus of poverty, we have developed the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Consumption Poverty (LIMTCP), a two-dimensional measure that takes into account both the necessary consumption expenditures and household production time needed to achieve a minimum living standard.

  • Why Time Deficits Matter

    Research Project Report, August 16, 2012 | August 2012
    Implications for the Measurement of Poverty

    Customarily, income poverty incidence is judged by the ability of individuals and households to gain access to some level of minimum income based on the premise that such access ensures the fulfillment of basic material needs. However, this approach neglects to take into account the necessary (unpaid) household production requirements without which basic needs cannot be fulfilled. In fact, the two are interdependent and evaluation of standards of living ought to consider both dimensions.

    This report provides an analytical and empirical framework that includes unpaid household production work in the very conceptualization and calculations of poverty: the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTIP). Based on this new analytical framework, empirical estimates of poverty are presented and compared with those calculated according to the official income poverty lines for Argentina, Chile, and Mexico. In addition, an employment-generating poverty-reduction policy is simulated in each country, and the results are assessed using the official and LIMTIP poverty lines.

    The undertaking of this work was initiated as a result of joint discussions and collaboration between the Levy Economics Institute and United Nations Development Programme Regional Service Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly the Gender Practice, Poverty, and Millennium Development Goals areas. It addresses an identified need to expand the knowledge base, conceptually, analytically, and empirically, on the links between (official) income poverty and the time allocation of households between paid and unpaid work.

    Supporting documents:
    Executive Summary
    Excel Tables for Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5

  • Estimating the Impact of the Recent Economic Crisis on Work Time in Turkey

    Working Paper No. 686 | September 2011

    This paper provides estimates of the impact of the recent economic crisis on paid and unpaid work time in Turkey. The data used in this study come from the first and only time-use survey available at the national level. Infrequency of collection of time-use data in Turkey does not allow us to make a direct comparison of pre- versus postcrisis time-use patterns. We introduce a tractable way for estimating these possible effects by measuring the impact of an increase in unemployment risk on time-use patterns of women and men living in couple households. The method developed here can be applied to other developing-country cases where there is a lack of longitudinal data availability. Our findings support the argument that economic crises reinforce the preexisting gender inequalities in work time.

    Associated Program:
    Emel Memiş S. A. Kaya Bahçe

  • The Unequal Burden of Poverty on Time Use

    Working Paper No. 572 | August 2009

    This study uses the first time-use survey carried out in South Africa (2000) to examine women’s and men’s time use, with a focus on the impacts of income poverty. We empirically explore the determinants of time spent on different paid and unpaid work activities, including a variety of household and individual characteristics, using bivariate and multivariate Tobit estimations. Our results show asymmetric impacts of income poverty on women’s and men’s time use. Time-use patterns of South African women and men reveal the unequal burden of income poverty among household members. While being poor increases the amount of time women spend on unpaid work, we do not see any significant impact on men’s unpaid work time. For example, women in poor households spend more time than men collecting water and fuel, as well as maintaining their homes.

    Associated Program:
    Burca Kizilirmak Emel Memiş

  • From Unpaid to Paid Care Work

    Working Paper No. 570 | July 2009
    The Macroeconomic Implications of HIV and AIDS on Women's Time-tax Burdens

    This paper considers public employment guarantee programs in the context of South Africa as a means to address the nexus of poverty, unemployment, and unpaid work burdens—all factors exacerbated by HIV/AIDS. It further discusses the need for genderinformed public job creation in areas that mitigate the “time-tax” burdens of women, and examines a South African initiative to address social sector service delivery deficits within the government’s Expanded Public Works Programme. The authors highlight the need for well-designed employment guarantee programs—specifically, programs centered on community and home-based care—as a potential way to help offset the destabilizing effects of HIV/AIDS and endemic poverty. The paper concludes with results from macroeconomic simulations of such a program, using a social accounting matrix framework, and sets out implications for both participants and policymakers.

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