The Cost of Caring

Paula England, Nancy Folbre

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Caring work involves providing a face-to-face service to recipients in jobs such as child care, teaching, therapy, and nursing. Such jobs offer low pay relative to their requirements for education and skill. What explains the penalty for doing caring work? Because caring labor is associated with women, cultural sexism militates against recognizing the value of the work. Also, the intrinsic reward people receive from helping others may allow employers to fill the jobs for lower pay. Caring labor creates public goods--widespread benefits that accrue even to those who pay nothing. For example, if children learn skills and discipline from teachers, the children's future employers benefit, with no market mechanism to make the pay given to care workers reflect these benefits. Even when the public or not-for-profit sectors do step in to hire people to provide such services for those too poor to pay, the pay is limited by how much decision makers really care about the poor. Finally, the fact that people feel queasy about putting a price on something as sacred as care limits the pay offered--as paradoxical as it is to pay less for something when it is seen as infinitely valuable.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)39-51
    Number of pages13
    JournalThe ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
    Volume561
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1999

    Fingerprint

    employer
    costs
    job offer
    labor
    market mechanism
    sexism
    child care
    reward
    decision maker
    penalty
    profit
    nursing
    recipient
    worker
    Teaching
    teacher
    Values
    education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Social Sciences(all)

    Cite this

    The Cost of Caring. / England, Paula; Folbre, Nancy.

    In: The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 561, No. 1, 1999, p. 39-51.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    England, Paula ; Folbre, Nancy. / The Cost of Caring. In: The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. 1999 ; Vol. 561, No. 1. pp. 39-51.
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