Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa
Gender disparity in the division of responsibilities for unpaid care and domestic work (household production) is a central and pervasive component of inequalities between men and women and boys and girls. Reducing disparity in household production figures as one element of the goal of gender equality enshrined in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and feminist scholars and political activists have articulated that the redistribution of household production responsibilities from females to males is important for its own sake, as well as for achieving gender equality in labor market outcomes. A cursory examination of available cross-country data indicates that higher per capita GDP—the neoliberal panacea for most societal malaise—provides little bulwark against the gender inequality in household production.
Ajit Zacharias, Thomas Masterson, Fernando Rios-Avila, and Abena D. Oduro contribute to the literature on the intrahousehold distribution of household production by placing the question within a framework of analyzing deprivation, applying that framework to better understand the interactions between poverty and the gendered division of labor in four sub-Saharan African nations: Ethiopia, Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania. Central to their framework is the notion that attaining a minimal standard of living requires command over an adequate basket of commodities and
sufficient time to be spent on home production, where meeting those requirements produces benefits for all—including those beyond the household.
Their findings motivate questions regarding the feasibility and effectiveness of redistribution of household responsibilities to alleviate time deficits and their impoverishing effects. By developing a framework to assess the mechanics of redistribution among family members and applying it to gender-based redistribution, they derive the maximum extent to which redistribution—either among all family members, between sexes, or between husbands and wives—can lower the incidence of time deficits. The conclude with a discussion of alternative principles of distributing household production responsibilities among family members and examine their impact on the Levy Institute Measure of Time and Income Poverty (LIMTCP) and discuss some policy questions in light of their findings.