Care and inequalities
July 15, 2020

Paid care workers are overwhelmingly women, and research has shown that the gender wage gap continues to persist; women continue to earn around 81 cents to the dollar earned by men. This economy-wide gender gap disproportionately impacts the care sector, where so many women are concentrated. In addition to the overall gender wage gap, there is an additional wage penalty for care workers, although recent research suggests that the care penalty may have diminished for skilled care workers. Scholars argue that at least of part of the wage penalty experienced by care workers is due to the gendered process of devaluation related to the cultural association of carework with femaleness and “women’s work.” COVID19 has highlighted the failure of the market to pay wages that result in sufficient supply of direct care workers, particularly in long-term care, resulting in worker shortages.


Key resources:

England, Paula, Michelle Budig, and Nancy Folbre. 2002. “Wages of Virtue: The Relative Pay of Care Work.” Social Problems 49(4): 455-73.

Budig, Michelle J., and Joya Misra. 2010. “How Care-Work Employment Shapes Earnings in Cross-National Perspective.” International Labour Review 149(4):441–60.

Duffy, Mignon, Amy Armenia, and Clare Stacey (Eds). 2015. Caring on the Clock: The Complexities and Contradictions of Paid Care Work. Rutgers University Press.

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