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Monday, November 8, 2010

The Truth about Feminomics

FEMINIST - A woman's work is never done.

And likewise trying to calculate the value of woman's work is infinite. Let me explain why...

When a mother teaches their children a skill and that skill is passed on to future generations, even if the skill changes over time, evolves, it ends up being of infinite value to the descendants who follow. ie. The ability to cook your own food, something which every human should know.

But how does women's work get calculated into the wealth (GDP) of a nation? In theory all that food that is grown, harvested and eaten at home has value that is being ignored when calculating the GDP of many countries, even European and Western countries.

Instead GDP is usually measured in dollars changing hands, like BP oil or the Alberta tar sands (and totally ignores the damage to the environment which will cost future generations billions to fix, let alone the damage to the health of people living near these environmental disasters).

GDP also ignores birthing, nursing, diapering, cooking, baking, nurturing and teaching that most mothers do (and if they don't then their nanny does it).

Political economist Marilyn Waring, a former New Zealand cabinet minister and now professor of public policy at the Institute of Public Policy at AUT University in Auckland believes we should be calculating the value of women's work. “The market wouldn’t survive if it wasn’t able to survive on the backbone of unpaid work," she says.

So its not just women's work we are talking about. Its also the value of being a father (teaching, nurturing and so forth) and even chores done by children. ALL UNPAID WORK.

Waring calculates that the largest source of unpaid work in any economy is performed by women.

In 1988, Waring’s book "Counting for Nothing" (known now as "If Women Counted" introduced the idea that the way we calculate wealth is flawed because it ignores the well-being of work done at home.

Lets take for example a person living in northern Canada. If they build, using their own two hands, a huge home made of stone and outfit it with a source of electricity from a local river and a waterwheel, what is the GDP value of the home?


Because they didn't sell it.

Its like trying to keep track of barter, another source of "unpaid work". People perform barter on a regular basis without realizing it. Women's work is really just a form of barter. They cook, clean and nurture children in exchange for a roof over their head, food and spending money (we can ignore the love and intimacy factors that should be involved in such a relationship).

In 2005 StatsCan calculated that men perform an average of 2.5 hours of unpaid work per day while women do 4.3 hours. (This includes time spent doing volunteer work for the community.)

(Honestly I also wonder what does blogging count as... I am after all performing a free public service. But the value of informing other people of the worth of various truths is difficult to calculate.)

Feminomics therefore is a very tricky thing to calculate... but I'd argue trying to calculate it in dollars is a moot issue because its not paid in dollars. IT SHOULD BE MEASURED IN HOURS.

Suzy's Feminomics Value of Women's Work (or FV)

FV = Hours per Annum per Capita.

ie. In 2005 Canada the FV was 1569.5 hours / Capita.

But if we went to a country where most women don't have careers, like Afghanistan, the FV might be closer to 3000 hours / Capita.

The idea here is that if we actually want to calculate women's work that we need to be using a different yardstick.

1 comment:

  1. Milton Friedman once commented that if a man marries his maid, GDP goes down.


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