Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The value of motherhood

Flicking through my free Tesco magazine, I came across an article that calculated how much it would cost to pay professionals to do the work of a mother. They did this by using a survey of average time spent on various childcare tasks by mothers and then taking the average pay of a professional in that particular occupation and multiplying the two. Childcare tasks included driving children places, nursing, preparing food, cleaning (only for children not the household), cooking, helping with homework, laundry, counselling, PR, party planning and more. And, they calculated that to pay professionals to take on these roles would cost £1,425,105 per child.

This is fascinating for many reasons- first, because economists claim that it is impossible to make this calculation as it would be impossible to value such work in any meaningful way (but clearly what is difficult for economists is straightforward for journalists! ;) ). Second, it is valuing the work at quite a high rate, because if we divide this number by 18 years (and the survey took account of the fact that not all childcare tasks would be required throughout a child's life in its calculation) a mother's work is valued at almost £80,000 a year. If we were then to calculate the value of mother's work to the national economy, it would be a fairly significant chunk. Yet, we don't do this, because well it's only women's work...