What if the value of women who work at home.. home makers was imputed and added to the GDP of our economy?

This is not only about giving credit where it is due – women do work very hard, they put in long hours and incredible skills with great reliability and precision. That is not only creditable, it is also spectacular. Most workplaces are not able to command such loyalty and reliability with little holiday unless they pay multiples of the market rate for such work.

This is about fair valuation of the GDP. All value add must be included.

Here is the dilemma.

On the one hand is the injustice of ‘unpaid work’.. on the other hand is the incredible challenge of valuing and charging for work that is done for a higher purpose – family, love, affection, tradition.

On the one hand is the question of payments to women for the household and self being considered a ‘transfer payment’.. thus not included in the national income.. since it is assumed not to generate value. On the other hand – the insult embedded in that – all payments to home makers (men or women) are labeled as transfer – they do not add any value.

That is intrinsically untrue.

The home maker is in charge of running a cost centre.

By that logic managers of a cost centre do not earn a salary, they merely get a transfer payment (yay, no taxes!!!)

Of course that leads to the next set of questions:

If women are to be paid for running the household (and this is but a thought exercise), how much should they be paid? As per their competence, delivery levels, job description? Should PhDs who stay at home be paid more than mere school leavers? Should ex-investment bankers be acknowledged for the notional loss of income in turning home makers (match with peer group incomes). Should those with more helpers be paid less because they do more or paid more – as managers are?

And for the now put to rest geopolitical analyst in me, the most fascinating question of all – if we did add the imputed income of women to the GDP (oh, lets add PPP terms for fun), then how would the ranking of the richest countries in the world change?

Countries with more women, who work productively (or even lazily) would be able to add the value of their work to the GDP valuation.

So, if women are half the sky (terrible phrase, btw) – and each of them earns at – say, for ease of back of the envelope calculation – at the same rate as India’s per capita income. Then, would India’s GDP double? Oh, some of them are already calculated in the workstream – say 20%. Then India’s GDP goes up roughly 1.75 times, right?

Wonder how the numbers will change for other countries. Would the relative rankings change?

Can the simple task of valuing and charting the contribution of women change the world order?


I have been asking this question for almost two decades.

Never seriously, just a thought at the back of my head.

I shared this with Varsha Joshi, a friend who knows more than I do about India’s statistics.. and here is her response:




We were pointed to Prajnya’s essay on a part of the issue: Should housewives be paid salaries linked here http://keepingcount.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/guest-series-should-housewives-be-paid-salaries-part-3-of-3/



So the UK does this for drugs and prostitution in May 2014. But nobody does it for home workers.

Link: http://blogs.ft.com/money-supply/2014/05/29/sex-drugs-and-gdp-calculating-illicit-trade/

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