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Economy of Care Research Program

Background Title
Most of care demands -childcare, eldercare, and care for the sick- fall on women. The increasing need for care comes from both, the withdrawing of the State and the lack of social protection mechanism; and the demographic changes taking place in several middle-income countries. All of these changes in care provision have impacts on women's labor force participation, time-use, and intra-household responsibilities. There is a visible and a hidden economy of care affecting largely women and girls of all age groups.

Some of the key questions appearing are:
» Childcare: Does its provision increase FLFP (given that poor women have lower FLFP participation in some countries, the difference between free -public- and paid -private- provision needs to be addressed)? Does it increase the quality of jobs as women are not constrained by their need for flexibility? How do we reconcile some of the findings regarding mother's role in ECD and FLFP? What is the role of cultural barriers in use of childcare?
» Eldercare and care for the sick: Childcare is not the only care task that constrains women. Particularly Southern Cone countries are well advanced in demographic change and the care of the elder becomes an issue for women over 45, what relates with the decline of their labor force participation. What are the economic losses?
» Labor market opportunities: On its positive side, the care economy is also creating a labor market niche to be filled by women (nurses, nannies, caregivers) operating on a global scale to the point that new migration trends are starting to appear. Would this turn into a new form of labor market occupational segregation? Is the care economy creating economic opportunities for women who were unable to find other opportunities (i.e. older women with lack of training or work history)?

Current research and work on the topic tends to focus on the time-use and time demands on women; global economy of care and migration trends; and childcare provision mechanisms.

For the case of Latin American countries, as well as other regions, the absence of a welfare State system and a network of public support for care pose new challenges. Care demands are increasing for all families, being a higher burden for those with low or no public support. Although childcare systems have been largely developed and awareness has increased, eldercare remains a challenge.

Exploring the linkages for the political, family, and personal economy of care may lead to actionable proposals and new lines of action for the World Bank to support governments as part of the demands of the second generation issues gender agenda.

Objectives Title

The main objective is to understand the key economic implications of the raising demands for care and their impact on women's economic participation. This capacity building initiative will:
  • Gather, create and fill knowledge gaps
  • Develop capacity on Bank staff for better inclusion of care economy agenda in operational and analytical work
  • Create a shared vision of the role of the Bank in the care economy agenda
  • Learn the historic evolution of development thinking on care economy
Expected Outcomes
  • Produce a publication
  • Have a more knowledgeable Bank staff cadre that share a common vision on care economy and gender implications
  • Have future Bank financed analytical and operation work incorporating the lessons learned thought this two-year process
Event Title

Care Economy - Capacity Building Project FY09-FY10
February 25, 2009 - I2-250

As part of a two year capacity building and learning program for World Bank staff and key counterparts; the Poverty and Gender Group of the Latin America and the Caribbean Region, together with the Gender and Development Group ,are organizing a Roundtable of Experts on Care Economy and Gender. The main objective of the program is to understand the key economic implications of the raising demands for care and their impact on women's economic participation. The roundtable seeks to understand the progress and current trends for the care economy policy agenda; as well as the knowledge and policy gaps for World Bank action. The final goal is to develop capacity on Bank staff for better inclusion of care economy issues in both operational and analytical work as well as to create a shared vision of the role of the Bank in the care economy global agenda.

The roundtable is the first activity to launch the program and will include lead experts from academia, multilateral agencies, and other development organizations who will participate of a series of panels and a learning cafe on February 25, 2009 on I2-250 at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, DC. The event is by invitation only.

Program Documents:
Agenda and annotated bibliography.


Thematic Session
» Panel 1: Intra-household allocation of care responsibilities
» Panel 2: Labor Markets
Thematic Session 2
» Panel 3:Care Provision
» Panel 4: Finance

 Care Economy Image 

Last updated: 2009-07-27

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