The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Domestic Labour

  • S. Himmelweit
Reference work entry


The term domestic labour entered economic vocabulary in the early 1970s as a result of feminist interest in criticizing and expanding economic categories to incorporate women’s activities. Both mainstream and critical traditions in economics tried to grapple with the problem of how to account for the difference between men’s and women’s position on the labour market. One approach was to relate women’s lesser training and skills in paid employment to competing demands made on a (married) woman’s time by domestic commitments, with a tacit, though unexplained, acceptance that for women paid employment has to fit into time left over after the allocation of that needed for domestic labour, while for men it is the other way round. It is only by the addition of such an assumption that the analysis of domestic labour can be said to have had anything to say about women.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Himmelweit
    • 1
  1. 1.