Race and gender stratification in the care sector
July 16, 2020
By Juliana Martínez Franzoni

Across Latin America, an unequal care regime is behind the stagnation, precariousness and fragility of female labor participation. This care regime sits at the intersection of significant social inequality, the absence of universal care services, and the prominent role of low paid and unprotected home-based paid carework for a few.

Before the pandemic, the lack of quality care arrangements that replaced women’s unpaid work paid was already a major obstacle for the economic empowerment of millions of women. That female labor participation stagnated during the 2000s while economies and jobs expanded, attest to this bottleneck.

At the onset of the new Century, innovative state action expanded regulations, transfers and services aimed at a social reorganization of carework. Steps were taken in the right direction albeit unevenly across countries. While most policy responses to the pandemic heavily rely on an expanded role of families and unpaid carework, policy legacies place the few best performers and the many laggard countries in very different situations to contain the care emergency and build back better.

Key sources

2019 “Growth to Limits of Female Labor Participation in Latin America’s Unequal Care Regime” with Fernando Filgueira, in Social Politics, vol. 26 (2): 245-275. Oxford University Press.

2017 “The Divergence in Women’s Economic Empowerment: Class and Gender under the Pink Tide.” With Fernando Filgueira. Social Politics, volume 24 (4): 370-398.

2016 “The Quest for Universal Social Policy in the South: Actors, Ideas and Architectures“, with Diego Sánchez-Ancochea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2015 “Maternalism, Co-responsibility, and Social Equity: A Typology of Work–Family Policies”. With Merike Blofield. Social Politics, volume 22 (1): 38-59.

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