The Mint Magazine, December 2020
The pandemic has highlighted the relationship and trade-off between parenting and paid work. School and childcare facility closures as well as reduction in the operating schedules for those remaining open have impacted parental working schedules. Though much of the recent discussion has centered on the resulting disproportionate child-rearing responsibilities of women and their forced exit from the labour market, perhaps the more significant discussion is the discounting of the social value of parenting arising from its lack of market value.
I am a single parent, a woman and an economist. The last aspect has affected how I perceive the world, the second, how I am perceived by it and the first, is an opportunity that I have to leave an impression. All of these attributes have value but not necessarily quantitatively measurable value. Given the business of life, income has, based on assumed simplicity and accuracy, become a proxy for actual value. Unfortunately, use of quantitative metrics has placed heavy reliance on market values and virtually omitted the value of activities that may not be monetised.
Being a parent is a value that only has market significance when the responsibilities are outsourced, while being a woman has implicit social value that is culturally determined. Being an economist provides direct evidence of occupational value based on my pay cheque, which under the assumption that demand from my employer relative to the supply of labour from me represents equal bargaining power, may be assumed as my fair market value.