Whether in the private or public sector, investing in care reaps benefits far exceeding the investments made. Conversely, if little attention is paid to care, the repercussions can be cyclical and detrimentally impact private sector firms and overarching economic growth.
Private sector firms may underestimate the substantial costs that unpaid care work exacts on their business. Workers’ inability to access quality care for those who depend on them results in firms’ experiencing decreased productivity, high turnover and difficulty recruiting and retaining quality workers – especially women. While care work is not strictly relegated to women, women spend significantly more time than men on unpaid care work, spending twice as much time on household work and four times as much time on childcare than men.
Meanwhile, economic growth in the 21st century requires public investment in its workforce. Yet countries lose access to more than half their workforce when women face insurmountable barriers to meaningful engagement in employment. The burden of unpaid care – of children, the elderly and the sick – falls disproportionately to women and severely limits women’s ability to participate in the economy. In the absence of publicly provided services, poorer women and their households are heavily affected, as hiring private, market-based care is an expense that well-educated, high-earning women and households are better able to afford.
To read more about the impacts of investing – or not investing – in care, as well as case studies on how this plays out in different parts of the world, view ICRW’s publications below.