The Care Economy: a new research framework
Sciences Po LIEPP Working paper
PENG Ito - University of Toronto (U of T) (Author)
Paris : Laboratoire interdisciplinaire d'évaluation des politiques publiques
Sciences Po LIEPP Working paper : 89
care economy, well-being, capability, welfare state, social policy
Care economy refers to the sector of economic activities, both paid and unpaid, related to the provisions of social and material care, which contribute to nurturing and supporting the present and future populations. Broadly, it includes direct and indirect care of children, the elderly and the disabled, health care, education, and as well, financial and other personal and domestic services aimed at supporting and enhancing individual well-being. Although largely invisible and scarcely accounted in national account systems, such as GDP, care and care work is increasingly recognized as essential for the maintenance of capability and well-being of individuals, and for the functioning of society and the economy. In almost all high- and middle-income countries the combination of the shift from an industrial/manufacturing to a service-based economy and the steady socio-demographic changes over the last several decades have made care economy an increasingly relevant social, economic and political issue today. Yet, despite growing awareness, the concept of the care economy remains ambiguous and the research on the topic germinal. The objectives of this paper are to: 1) trace and elucidate the ideas around the care economy; 2) analyze key concepts and debates around the idea of the care economy that may contribute to future research; and 3) discuss a potential research and policy agenda for understanding care economies today. I draw mostly from feminist research within the fields of social policy and welfare states, economy, sociology and political economy, highlighting some of the key debates and areas of convergence.