This week, the New York Times is hosting a debate over whether it is fair that family members receive no monetary compensation for their efforts inside the home. Noah Zatz, professor at the UCLA law school, argues that undervaluing labor that happens inside the home puts poor families at a further monetary disadvantage.
“If someone earns $15,000 and spends it on child care, the government sees income earned to help support the family. But if she cares for her kids herself, this economic activity disappears: no income, no work, no spending. This economic invisibility has profound consequences.”
In this case, the so-called “housewife” receives none of the credit that a low-wage worker would receive for the same effort: no Social Security, protection against future disability, or unemployment credit. While cash payments might not be the solution for those unrecognized by their contributions to the household, tax credits and other forms of compensation are imaginable.
And when the division of labor in the house is unequal in terms of compensation, the results are bad for society, as Northwestern University’s Alice Eagly explains in her Big Think interview: