Women’s Unpaid Labor Is Globally Worth $10.9 Trillion, Report Says

Plus, experts don’t believe the gender gap will be closing anytime soon.
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profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Published March 6, 2020
Stacks of money represent unpaid labor of women
Image: Getty Images

Unpaid labor is just what it sounds like. It’s the work that’s done to care for children, to care for older family members and to keep the house running—and, more often than not, it’s done by women. Now, analysts are looking at just how much that unpaid labor is worth on a national and a global scale.

Yesterday, in honor of International Women’s Day on Sunday, The New York Times, put out a report on how much women would have made last year had they earned minimum wage for all their unpaid work. The analysis, conducted by Oxfam, found that globally their unpaid labor was worth $10.9 trillion. According to the findings, that number is higher than the revenue earned by the 50 biggest companies on Fortune’s Global 500 list last year, including Walmart, Apple and Amazon.

Looking at countries around the world, the report states that India has the largest gender gap in unpaid labor. Indian women spend close to six hours a day managing household work, while Indian men only spend close to 52 minutes. Scandinavian countries, specifically Sweden, Denmark and Norway, had the smallest gaps, as they also have social programs that help care for kids and the elderly.

Nationally, the unpaid labor of women was worth $1.5 trillion, as women work an average of four hours, compared to men who work two and half hours. The report states that the government began keeping track of unpaid labor in 1965 (a time when American women were no doubt doing more work than men to manage the home). While the gender gap in unpaid labor has grown smaller, women are still doing most of the unpaid labor (with many also working full-time). According to the World Economic Forum, it could take another 100 years to close the gap.

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