Unpaid Work, Animated

Nancy Folbre
11 June 2020

About half of all the time devoted to work in the U.S. is devoted to unpaid work in the home.

The Institute for New Economic Thinking has created an adorable animation of some comments I made in an interview with them on this topic a while back.

It’s quite a lot of fun, and basically accurate. Just don’t pay too much attention to the numbers they inserted into my discussion of two families, each with a market income of $50,000–the animation seems to imply that leisure should be assigned a monetary valuation–not something I advocate.

Still, the main point comes through just fine: conventional measures provide a misleading picture of living standards.

The animation provides a great introduction to the topic for students, and you can find a more academic version of the basic argument in a short briefing paper (Title: Why current definitions of family income are misleading, and why this matters for measures of inequality) I wrote for the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

2 comments on "Unpaid Work, Animated"

  1. Bootstrap Media Preview

    Hi Nancy,

    I find this extremely empowering. I work for the UN industrial development organization and the definition of women’s work is a constant challenge, especially when we have to report on how UNIDO empowers women.

    Thank you for this. I’ll read that paper ASAP.

  2. Bootstrap Media Preview
    Anders Fremstad

    Great summary and beautiful animations!

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