Care Provision: A Feminist Economist's Perspective

15 Nov 2021

On 15th November the ISS21 CareVisions research project hosted a seminar on care provision with Professor Nancy Folbre (University of Massachusetts) and Professor Mary Murphy (Maynooth University). 

In her presentation, Professor Folbre explored the gendered nature of care-giving. Historically, women’s opportunities to specialise in anything but care work were restricted and even today women are assigned primary responsibility for care-giving. Care provision builds on personal commitments and social obligations, but as a result, is often taken for granted. Moreover there are 'care penalties': evidence suggests that time devoted to unpaid care work lowers lifetime earnings and increases risk of poverty; mothers may face discrimination in the labor market; and workers in care industries and occupations are paid less than others with the same education and experience. This raises questions as to how we can make a case for more generous public support and more equitable sharing of care responsibilities. Professor Folbre argues that a feminist economic perspective provides a helpful vocabulary for answering this question. 

Discussant Professor Mary Murphy reflected on the issues raised in the presentation - particularly in the Irish context - as well as highlighting the role of women as carers during the Covid 19 pandemic.   

A recording of the event is available here


Nancy Folbre is Professor Emerita of Economics and Director of the Program on Gender and Care Work at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Senior Fellow of the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College in the United States.  Her research explores the interface between political economy and feminist theory, with a particular emphasis on the value of unpaid care work. Publications include: The Rise and Decline of Patriarchal Systems (Verso, 2021), Greed, Lust, and Gender: A History of Economic Ideas (Oxford, 2009), Valuing Children: Rethinking the Economics of the Family (Harvard, 2008), and The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values (New Press, 2001). 

Mary Murphy is Professor and Head of Department in the Department of Sociology, Maynooth University, with research interests in eco social policy, participation income, gender and social security, globalisation and welfare states, and power and civil society. She co-edited The Irish Welfare state in the 21st Century Challenges and Changes (Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2016) and Policy Analysis in Ireland (Policy Press, 2021).   An elected member of Dublin City Council (2003-2008) she is an active advocate for social justice, eco social welfare and gender equality. 

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