"Unpaid female caregiving is not only the life-blood of families, it is the very heart of the economy"
— Ann Crittenden, The Price of Motherhood (2001)
Mother's Day is the big day of the year when people are supposed to buy things or do things for their mothers, or at least spare an appreciative thought for their mother if they are lucky to have a mother that they appreciate.
However, there is an economic side to being a mom (or mum) and that's because the entire economy relies on new generations of being consumers born.
Here's a free market think tank quote that inadvertently sheds light on this (and explains why there are often articles in the business media fretting that women aren't having enough babies):
"Very often the best way to determine the contributions of people or things to an on-going process
is to see what happens in their absence." —Jackson Grayson, The Illusion of Wage and Price Control,
Michael Walker editor, published by the Fraser Institute (1976)
Without the unpaid work of mothers and others, no paid work would be possible. Marilyn Waring in her ground-breaking book "Counting for Nothing" describes in detail how it is the very work defined under the GDP as being 'non-productive' that is the prerequisite for all other work.
GETTING PAID IN HUGS
But shouldn't mothers just be happy they get paid in hugs? This idea would only work if you could also pay your bills in hugs and if society agreed everyone else should also be paid in hugs. But as Ann Crittenden states: "Virtues and sacrifices, when expected of one group of people and not of everyone become the mark of an underclass." (The Price of Motherhood 2001)
Society (and the environment) has a huge problem when those doing essential and beneficial work like raising children or other types of unpaid care work are financially penalized, but at the same time many harmful industries reap big financial rewards because they are considered 'productive' under the GDP (the easiest examples being the tobacco and junk food industries).
The idea that your "productiveness" as defined by out-dated economic ideas determines your right to a decent life is clearly outdated. But it is not only mothers who suffer from the "unproductive" label. As automation replaces human labour with machines, more people will fall into the "unproductive" and "unpaid" category. This is why everyone from unpaid carers to those concerned about technological unemployment are saying that a universal basic income is the only practical solution to these problems.
Read the full Mothernomics articlemhere.
See Marilyn Waring's NFB documentary "Who's Counting" here.