Mission & Vision
The Care Work and the Economy (CWE-GAM) Project is striving to reduce gender gaps in economic outcomes and enhance gender equality by illuminating and properly valuing the broader economic and social contributions of caregivers and integrating care in macroeconomic policymaking toolkits. We work to provide policymakers, scholars, researchers and advocacy groups with gender-aware data, empirical evidence, and analytical tools needed to promote creative, gender-sensitive macroeconomic and social policy solutions. In this era of demographic shifts and economic change, innovative policy solutions to chronic public underinvestment in care provisioning and infrastructures and the constraints that care work places on women’s life and employment choices are needed more than ever. Sustainable development requires gender-sensitive policy tools that integrate emerging understandings of care work and its connection with labor supply, and economic and welfare outcomes.
Dimensions of our work
We are, at our core, an international group of researchers organized into three working groups. Together, our multi-disciplinary research teams are aiming to: bring gender dimensions into macroeconomic models, particularly in the case of care provisioning; gain a deeper understanding of the nature of care work by developing comprehensive measures and methodological approaches, and produce new research that illustrates the intersectionality of care provisioning, economic growth and distribution; and develop applied macromodels and analytical tools that integrate care work and other gendered behaviors to allow for more accurate policy analysis.
Policy and Advocacy
We engage policymakers and advocacy groups at the country and international levels to show the importance of care work and enhance awareness of the differential effects policy choices have on men and women. Our research and policy tools are designed not only to influence policy design, implementation, and evaluation, but also to broaden the array of available policy options and illustrate their impacts on growth, distribution and gender equality.
We are building a broad network of scholars and policymakers interested in incorporating issues related to care work and gender into the methods and tools used for formulating, implementing and analyzing macroeconomic and social policies. We engage economists, sociologists, demographers, gender and development scholars, and others to advance the assessment of care work and a fuller recognition of gender in planning and practice.
Why is it important to integrate care in economic policymaking tools?
Caring for children, the elderly, and other dependents is a vital form of work that sustains human existence, enhances individual and broader societal well-being, and promotes sustainable development. Caring for children nurtures and develops skills that enable them to grow into healthy and productive adults. Caring for the elderly is often cast as an economic and social burden, yet is a vital aspect of our sense of humanity and critical to social cohesion and human flourishing throughout life. Despite producing tremendous benefits for individuals, families, and communities, care work is enormously undervalued and remains invisible in the macroeconomic models guiding policymakers in policy formulation and analyses.
In addition, paid and unpaid care work is overwhelmingly performed by women and affects their well-being. The invisibility of care in macroeconomic policy formulation and analysis leads to three things: 1) chronic public underinvestment in care work and infrastructures; 2) the stalling of (and even decline in) women’s labor force participation, and 3) persistent gender and economic inequalities. In many countries the neglect of care has led to social crises manifested in the form of uncared-for elderly, disabled, sick persons, and children in society. These issues have also underpinned silent protests against long work hours performed by women, leading to a decline in marriage rates and fertility in several parts of the world. With the increasing growth of the elderly population and shifts in global demographics (aging in some regions, population growth in others), there is a need for more policy discourse about the gendered impact of fiscal and other macroeconomic policies and the urgency of developing an adequate care delivery system.
The international community has begun to recognize the importance of care work, most notably through Target 5.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The target suggests a need to, “Recognize and value unpaid care and domestic work through the provision of public services, infrastructure and social protection policies and the promotion of shared responsibility within the households and the family as nationally appropriate.”
The Care Work and the Economy research program seeks to generate action on this SDG target and support other SDGs. Our work is based on the premise that reducing gender gaps in economic outcomes, promoting sustainable development, and planning for demographic shifts require that countries establish comprehensive plans to address the challenges associated with care and reframe the notions of care and the value that society assigns it.
Our multi-disciplinary, global research team is contributing to the conceptual, empirical and practical dimensions of promoting gender equality and more equitable economic outcomes. We advance best practices in data collection and research methods for understanding and measuring care work; we work to reframe macroeconomics, so it integrates care work and other gendered behaviors; and we develop policy toolkits that support provisioning human needs and promoting gender-equitable outcomes. In this way, our work helps to ensure that policymakers and the public fully comprehend how both women and men will be impacted by policy choices that effect the care economy.