Friday, May 04, 2007

Stay at Home Moms worth $138,000 per annum

This issue has always been an interest of mine from an economics perspective. It is clearly one of the most important jobs in society and one of the key inputs (investments in human capital) for a nations stability and ultimate productivity and growth but yet completely unmeasured in any traditional GDP calculation.

While there have been calls (mainly from feminist groups) to amend the GDP equation to account for non monetary transactions I don’t see this happening anytime soon as it would require a fundamental alteration in the definition of what a good or service is.


Blogger Ravee said...

The harmful aspect of this debate is that it assumes "stay at home" parents have no choice in the matter, and therefore, in the absence of a paycheck dollar value, their output should be somehow quantified. Most families I know who have a "stay at home" parent have made a conscious choice for that lifestyle, and it is not for lack of opportunities for the spouse who has chosen to stay home. If the reason for the debate in the first place is because some interest group believes that the "working outside the home" spouse is not appreciative of the "stay at home" spouse's contributions, or that somehow society is not appreciative of it, I really think they are barking up the wrong tree.

My spouse took 3 years off from her job to give birth to, and focus primarily on being at home for, our two daughters. She then went back to her job. It was a choice we both made and we were both comfortable with. I am as appreciative of the role she played then, as I am of the role she plays now as a "working mom". Who are these people who believe that people need to be treated like idiots to see the tradeoffs and choices made by families who choose to have one parent be a "stay at home" parent? The data about the theoretical salary of a "stay at home" parent (even if accurate) is utterly meaningless. Everyone knows what the cost is of a "stay at home" parent - it is the dollars of lost salary and benefits. Adding a theoretical and abstract value on "stay at home" duties does not tell me or my spouse anything that we can use to benefit our marriage, our parenting, or our bank balance.

The authors of the study certainly seem to think that a fair number of people are, in fact, knuckle dragging primitive cave dwellers.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Ravee said...

Yet another thought...what does the calculation of this number actually do for us? If it is assumed that raising a family involves the same LOE across human societies as a whole, it should cancel itself out as a "constant". Also, it is not clear that "parenting" can be considered an economic good or service that can be traded or exchanged in any real sense.

3:30 PM  

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