Putting an economic value on priceless domestic bliss

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

You cannot really put a price on domestic duties, all of the jobs that keep your household ship-shape and on the straight and narrow – although, if you really wanted to, our friends across the water value it at around £12,000 a year.

That’s the worth that statisticians put on the washing, cleaning, cooking and looking after children as their way of demonstrating the hidden boost that it gives to the economy.

But those who do the work would probably be more than a little miffed to find that, if they were paid the minimum wage of a tenner an hour for their efforts, this would suggest they fit it all of these domestic chores into around 23 hours a week.

The reality suggests that keeping the show on the road might take closer to 23 hours a day, but the Office for National Statistics was merely conducting an exercise to show the hidden economic contribution of home-makers.

Of course, the actual economic cost is nothing at all; apart from the children’s allowance and, sometimes in extenuating circumstances, a carer’s allowance, we do it all for free.

And that’s fair enough, because nobody asked you to buy a house or have children – so, therefore, the rest of the population shouldn’t have to pay you to feed your own or clean up after them.

But now, more than ever, some economic value must be put on those whose work is confined to the home, given that fewer families than ever can get by without having both parents in paid employment.

Back in the day, most families had one parent out at work and one who stayed at home to manage everything else; invariably it was the father out earning and the mother making the home.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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