Unfolding Unpaid Domestic Work in India: Women's Constraints, Choices, and Career

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Pushpendra Singh & Falguni Pattanaik
Springer Nature
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  • Abstract

Unpaid domestic work is an important aspect of productive activities and an indispensable factor that contributes to the well-being of household and economy. However, the predominance of women in domestic work and keeping them out of ‘economic activities’ put unpaid domestic work under the shadow of invisibility, outside the production boundaries, and further outside the purview of economic policy. The nature of women’s work has endured substantial alterations during the neo-liberal paradigm of Indian economy, and women’s participation in the labor force and workforce has declined significantly. To understand the status of women in the labor market, it is necessary to comprehend the nature of their unpaid work, which has significant impact on their work participation rate in the economy. Therefore, the objective of this study is to examine the magnitude and factors that influence the unpaid domestic work status of women in India. The findings of this study reveal that the intensity to be engaged in domestic work is high among women who are less educated and belong to the lower wealth quintile in society. Women are engaged in unpaid domestic work because of three factors—Constraints (social and religious), Choices (failure of market and states to provide essential provisioning), and Career (low opportunity cost of unpaid work in the market). Therefore, a holistical approach within the broader context of household, state, market, and society through a macro, meso, and micro interconnects has to be considered for changing women’s status in the economy.

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