Stay-at-home moms and dads save their families a mint in childcare costs alone — no mean feat, when daycare costs more than college tuition in 35 states. Add in things like housecleaning, errands, running carpool, and volunteering at school, and you’re looking at some pretty valuable work. So should homemakers earn a salary? Some government officials in India say yes.
The Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering a proposal that would allocate part of a husband’s salary as payment for his stay-at-home wife’s labor.
“Whenever we ask housewives what they do, most of them say they do nothing,” said WCD minister Krishna Tirath in an interview with Press Trust of India. “So we feel that a mechanism can be devised to quantify and calculate the value of work that they do for their families. It will give a more socially empowered identity to these women.”
In addition, Tirath said, paying housewives would allow the government to get a better handle on the GDP and to determine true unemployment numbers.
“The work that women do at home is also economic activity, but it goes unaccounted. If children are sent to a creche [daycare facility], then money has to be spent. If somebody from outside does cooking or any other work, money has to be spent. And the quality of work of homemakers cannot even be compared with others,” Tirath said.
The Ministry also hopes that paying housewives a salary will trickle down to the children, improving the quality of their food, education, and create a higher standard of living for the family as a whole.
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