A Care-Led Recovery from COVID-19: Investing in High Quality Care to Stimulate and Rebalance the Economy

de Henau, Jérôme and Himmelweit, Susan (2020). A Care-Led Recovery from COVID-19: Investing in High Quality Care to Stimulate and Rebalance the Economy. Feminist Economics (In Press).

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic has both devastated employment prospects, particularly of women, and shown up the longstanding neglect of care systems and poor working conditions of care workers. Most recovery programs propose to stimulate employment by focusing on investment in construction, ignoring gender equality issues. This paper argues for public investment in high-quality care services and better conditions for care workers to build a more gender-equal caring economy. Using input-output analysis, across selected EU countries and the US, a care-led recovery is shown to have superior employment outcomes to investment in construction, even when wages and hours are matched. In particular, matching employment and wages in care to the high levels of Scandinavian countries, would raise employment rates by more than 5 percentage points and halve most gender employment gaps, while the net cost of investment in construction that achieved as much would generally be at least twice as high.

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