Wondering what your unpaid work is worth? Why childcare and housework cost women more than we think

“Men won’t easily give up a system in which half the world’s population works for next to nothing,” – Professor Marilyn Waring CNZM

What is daily housework, cooked meals, hours of feeding, changing and looking after children worth?

In 2017, Price Waterhouse Cooper research found that women are responsible for 72% of all unpaid work in Australia. The bulk of this unpaid work is childcare. Worth $345bn, childcare is Australia’s largest industry – three times the size of the financial and insurance services industry. The combined remainder of the unpaid work – domestic duties, volunteering etc – is the second largest sector in the Australian economy.

Unpaid work almost half of Australian GDP

In 1992, Australian economist Duncan Ironmonger adapted traditional input-output tables to the household using a national time use survey. He found Australians performed 380 million hours of unpaid household work each week, vs 272 million hours in paid employment. A staggering number!

Then, in 2006, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recorded similar figures. However, these showed extremely gendered outcomes in contributions to the economy. Though narrowly defined, the figure for the individual replacement cost of this unpaid labour was 43.5% of GDP.

Women facing a financial crisis

And sadly, that Ironmonger research and the 2006 ABS data has improved little in terms of its implications for women, despite the passage of time. Jane Jose, CEO Sydney Community Foundation said their 2018 research reinforced this pattern of unequal weighting and load on women. In ‘Portrait III: Hopes, Dreams & Fears of Sydney Women‘, the issues of women’s representation in the workplace, and access to flexible work were prevalent. However, the lack of value placed on the nurturing and caring roles – provided primarily by women – is the biggest contributor towards the financial vulnerability of many women in greater Sydney.

Recent research by Dr Rebecca Huntley for the Sydney Women’s Fund revealed 48% of women who work in Greater Sydney earn only a miniscule $34,000 or less per annum. Further, and more distressingly from a financial standpoint, 40% of women are working as unpaid carers.

“These are pressing issues for older women who in this country are the largest group facing homelessness often after a life of juggling part-time work, family and carer responsibility,” said Ms Jose.

Calculate the value of YOUR unpaid work

We’re not going to be able to change Australian society or cultural values overnight. However, at Super Rewards, we put a dollar figure on all your unpaid, invisible, work and time spent on childcare, looking after family and running the household. The calculator uses average figures based on metro Australian cities, sourced from services provider Airtasker. Let the calculations begin!

Wrap up

Yes, the financial crisis facing Australian women is real and very concerning. So, how can we change it? At Super Rewards our mandate is to address this crisis by giving women the opportunity to close the super gap by growing their super when they shop.

Cash rewards from our retailing partners – from grocery shopping, discretionary spending, domestic purchases – are contributed to your super every time you shop. Seamlessly. Effortlessly. Beautifully.

So sign up now, and start changing the value of your day – and your future.

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