ILO calls for urgent action to prevent looming global care crisis

28 June 2018

ILO calls for urgent action to prevent looming global care crisis

Investment in the care economy needs to be doubled to avert a looming global care crisis, says a new ILO report.

Sweeping changes in policies should address the rising need for care and tackle the huge disparity between women’s and men’s care responsibilities. The figures show that women are performing more than three-quarters of the time spent in unpaid care work.

Around 269 million new jobs could be created if investment in education, health and social work were doubled by 2030, the report says.

According to Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work, 2.1 billion people were in need of care in 2015, including 1.9 billion children under 15 and 200 million older persons. By 2030, this number is expected to reach 2.3 billion, driven by an additional 200 million older persons and children.

“The global prominence of nuclear families and single-headed households, and the growth of women’s employment in certain countries increase the demand for care workers. If not addressed properly, current deficits in care work and its quality will create a severe and unsustainable global care crisis and further increase gender inequalities in the world of work,” said Laura Addati, lead author of the report.

According to the report, women perform 76.2 percent of total hours of unpaid care work, more than three times as much as men.

In some countries, men’s contribution to unpaid care work has increased over the past 20 years. However, in the 23 countries providing such data, the gender gap in the time devoted to unpaid care responsibilities declined by just 7 minutes per day over the last two decades.

“At this pace, it will take 210 years to close the gender gap in unpaid care work in these countries. The glacial rate of these changes calls into question the effectiveness of past and current policies in addressing the extent and division of unpaid care work over the past two decades,” said Shauna Olney, Chief of the Gender, Equality and Diversity and ILOAIDS Branch of the ILO.

The report says that unpaid care work is the main barrier preventing women from getting into, remaining and progressing in the labour force. In 2018, 606 million working-age women said that they were not able to do so because of unpaid care work. Only 41 million men said they were not in the labour force for the same reason.

The report advocates a ‘high road’ to care work, which would result in a total of 475 million jobs by 2030, namely 269 million additional jobs compared with the number of jobs in 2015. This implies total public and private expenditure on care services of US$18.4 trillion or 18.3 per cent of total projected GDP. Such an investment would allow countries to reach several targets of four United Nations’ Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs) by 2030: SDG 3 (health care for all), SDG 4 (education for all), SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth).

Original source: ILO
Published on 28 June 2018