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Estimating the economic value of unpaid care work, utilizing Time Use Surveys

© Students line up to wash their hands before eating at Kanda Estate Primary School in Accra, Ghana on October 13, 2015. Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank. Retrieved from:

January 2024

Estimating the economic value of unpaid care work, utilizing Time Use Surveys


Motivation: Recognizing the economic value of unpaid care work is crucial for underscoring its economic importance and emphasizes the imperative to acknowledge it as a crucial contribution to the economy. Unpaid care work, predominantly undertaken by women, encompasses direct personal care work such as feeding a baby or caring for an ailing partner as well as essential indirect activities such as cooking or cleaning.[1]

  • Globally, women contribute to 76.2% of total unpaid care work, leading to increased time poverty and reduced participation in the labor force.[2]

  • According to ILO estimates, assigning a monetary value to unpaid care work reveals that it would constitute 9.0% of the global GDP, equivalent to USD 11 trillion.[3] Breaking this down, women's unpaid care work represents 6.6% of the global GDP (USD 8 trillion), while men contribute 2.4% (USD 3 trillion).[4]


Valuing unpaid care work is pivotal for addressing gender inequalities, informing policy decisions, and promoting social cohesion, emphasizing the need to redistribute the burden of care more equitably for the well-being of individuals and society as a whole. Consequently, conducting research studies to estimate the economic value of unpaid care work proves beneficial, offering valuable insights for policymakers and organizations, serving as a foundation to enhance advocacy efforts focused on promoting gender equality.

Given its importance, value of unpaid care work has been measured in a number of studies by different organizations for different country contexts or country groups:

  • Global: ILO. (2018). Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work. ILO: Geneva.

  • OECD countries: OECD. (2021). Bringing Household Services Out of the Shadows: Formalising Non-Care Work in and Around the House. OECD Publishing: Paris.

  • Bhutan: Asian Development Bank. (2020). Valuing Unpaid Care Work in Bhutan. ADB Economics Working Paper Series.

  • Serbia: UN Women. (2020). Economic value of the unpaid care work in the Republic of Serbia. Belgrade: UN Women Programme Office in Serbia.


Data need: In order to carry out this type of study, a time use survey is essential and would be required. Time-use surveys systematically capture how much time is spent by individuals across various activities, offering a comprehensive glimpse into daily life. In the realm of gender statistics, these surveys are valuable tools, revealing insights into the division of time among women and men in areas like work, household chores, study, personal care, family responsibilities, and leisure. By spotlighting gender-specific time-allocation patterns, these surveys illuminate the roles and circumstances of women and men in familial and social contexts.

Additionally, preferably a labour force survey (LFS) would be of use in such a study. The LFS, structured as a household sample survey, is specifically designed to gather comprehensive information about the labor market and related aspects. The key information collected in LFS includes employment status, occupation and industry, earnings and hours of work and education and training of the workforce. LFS can be used in assigning the unit cost value of time spent on unpaid care activities.

Approach and Methodology: The valuation of time invested in unpaid care work can be approached through input-based and output-based methods. [5] Input-based approach assigns a monetary value to the time invested in unpaid care work. Two primary input-based approaches are the replacement cost method and the opportunity cost method. The replacement cost method gauges the value of unpaid care work by estimating the cost of hiring individuals in the market to perform household tasks. Essentially, it reflects the expense of outsourcing these tasks to others. On the other hand, the opportunity cost method assesses the time devoted to unpaid labor by multiplying hours spent by a metric representing the "forgone profits" from not participating in paid employment. This method considers that those engaged in unpaid work are foregoing potential earnings in the job market. In contrast, the output-based approach assigns a market-worthy value to the public goods resulting from unpaid care work. These goods include maintaining the health of individuals, providing nutritious food, and ensuring clean households.

Previous work by DA: In this context, DA has carried out a study on quantifying the economic value of women's unpaid care activities in Türkiye. The study explored the substantial time women spend on unpaid home-based care activities, and highlighted the considerable economic impact of women's unpaid care work in Türkiye. The paper assessed the economic value of women's direct care activities at home using two established methodologies and utilizing two datasets: the 2006 Time Use Survey and the 2011 Labor Force Survey. The estimated value of direct care, representing a lower bound for the overall care activities of women, is approximately found as 1.37-3.34 percent of the GDP while it is ranging between 0.87 and 1.65 percent of the GDP for men as of 2011, depending on the methodology.

This study has been supported by the World Bank and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and has been prepared for the Turkey Ministry of Family and Social Policies, as an input for the work program titled “Designing Policies to Increase the Labour Force Participation of Women”.

If you would like to get in touch with us and discuss the details of carrying out such a study in your country, please click to register your interest. Following your registration, we'll reach out to coordinate a suitable date and time for a meeting to delve into your research needs and the details of such a study.



[1] ILO. (2018). Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work. ILO: Geneva.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

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