Providing Unpaid Household and Care Work in the United States: Uncovering Inequality

In the United States, women spend considerably more time than men over their lifetime doing unpaid household and care work. The unequal distribution of this work—work that is essential for families and societies to thrive—not only limits women’s career choices and economic empowerment, but also affects their overall health and well-being. In recent years, the gender gap in unpaid household and care work in the United States has narrowed as more women have entered the labor market and men have taken on more of this work, yet it is unlikely that a significant further shift can occur without public policies that better support families with unpaid care responsibilities.

This briefing paper considers the relationship between women’s earnings and unpaid household and care work activities to assess how increased time spent on unpaid work might affect women’s earnings and economic security. It concludes with recommended changes to public policies in the United States that would recognize the value of unpaid household and care work and facilitate more equitable distribution of this work between women and men.
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