Methodology for Estimating the Unpaid Care Sector in South Korea

/ / South Korea, South Korea Featured Category, Understanding and Measuring Care

Mainstream economists continue to define economic growth in terms of conventional measures such as market employment and income per capita. Women’s taking on full-time employment outside the home, therefore, has stimulated Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, while the social cost of a shift from informal to the formal economy has been ignored. The importance of fully recognizing the economic contributions of all forms of work –paid and unpaid–as a precondition for achieving gender equality has been proposed by feminist researchers since 1980s (Waring 1988, Folbre 1991). They have emphasized the need for empirical analysis of time devoted to unpaid care work, especially direct care of children, adults in need of assistance because of illness or disability, and the frail elderly.

Unpaid care work, i.e. household production, is the most significant part of production which is excluded from the production boundary of the system of national accounts(SNA) and hence, from the most commonly used economic indicator, Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The failure to recognize the economic value of unpaid care work leads to the belief that people who, without compensation, devote time to caring for others are unproductive or inactive and their unpaid activities fall outside the business of economic life. To be sure, unpaid household services and care work are now recognized in the landmark resolution for defining and measuring work passed during the 19th International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) in 2013.  Nevertheless, the lack of recognition of unpaid care work in the national accounts hinders the promotion of gender equality at the macroeconomic level due to the importance of these accounts as instruments for policymaking.

Suh (2019) first explores the concept of unpaid care work and its two forms, direct or relational care activities and indirect care activities. It then examines the role of time use data in estimating the unpaid, direct or relational care labor time provided by household members and the various methods by which this form of unpaid care work can be measured and valued, highlighting methodological and measurement issues. The input-based approach is then applied to the estimation of the imputed value of unpaid care provided by women and men aged 18 years and older based on the national Korean time use survey data and the Korean Labor Force survey for 2009and 2014. A range of wage rates is used for the estimation and differences between women and men are highlighted. These estimates are then aggregated for the population of South Korea. Finally, the paper concludes with a brief commentary on the importance of measuring and valuing unpaid care work.

This paper will be available December 2019

 

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