Non-Market Work and the Family

  • Brian Chiplin
  • Peter J. Sloane


It is appropriate to begin an analysis of discrimination against women in employment by reference ab initio to the family and the female role within it. This follows from the fact that much of what passes for discrimination can be seen as stemming from the role differentiation implied by the organisational framework of the family. If indeed women are to achieve full equality in the labour force some reassessment of the traditional division of labour in the household would seem to be a necessary if not sufficient condition for the attainment of this objective. Despite the importance of the subject, however, concentration on market activities has at least until recently led to the neglect of non-market productive activities. This is perhaps exemplified in conventional measures of national income which exclude the value of housewives’ services on the grounds of estimation difficulties, although conceptually some account ought to be taken of them. Recently, however, a number of economists, particularly in the United States, have emphasised the need to distinguish and analyse (paid) market work, (unpaid) household work, and leisure within an environment in which the family operates as a utility-maximising entity under certain constraints. Thus marriage itself, family size, the value of housewives’ time, household production and even church attendance have been given an economic interpretation. Whilst much of this work is not directly related to the question of discrimination, such studies do provide some pointers to differences in behaviour patterns relating to labour force participation and hence indicate underlying factors germane to the practice of discrimination on the part of both employers and employees.


Labour Market Labour Force Wage Rate Labour Force Participation Married Woman 
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© Brian Chiplin and Peter J. Sloane 1976

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  • Brian Chiplin
  • Peter J. Sloane

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