Wage Outrage

Italian campaigners  are calling for housewives to be paid a state salary.

The basis for asking for a salary from the state is the idea that the unpaid work at home benefits society in intangible ways, so deserves monetary compensation. I agree that there is a benefit to the society, but I disagree that it is economically intangible.

It is exerted through the working members of the family- in other words, a person doing unpaid work at home makes life better for their partner , who then potentially becomes a more productive employee/worker, earns higher wages, and pays higher taxes.

(I’m not sure if there are any studies supporting this theory, but I’m willing to assume that this does happen.)*

The benefits of a person’s unpaid work at home goes directly to their partner.

Any benefit to the larger society is thus indirect. It is a factor of the economic and social advantages that her partner gets.

This is why I disagree with taxing society- the ‘secondary’ beneficiary –  in order to pay this wage.

I however agree that a wage must be paid- and this must come from the primary beneficiary – the working partner.

I disagree on making this wage legally payable.

A family unit should  be left to negotiate this wage any which way they want- and governmental legislation of personal financial decision making doesn’t exactly make for good economic sense.

Instead, the government could create incentives (in the form of tax breaks?) for workers who share a part of their wages with family members who work solely at home. To claim it, the working partner would demonstrate that assets have been created for their unpaid partner.


* ETA- There is plenty of research work on this topic as it turns out. The theory is known as the Spousal Support Theory, and papers on it affect HR and alimony policy.

A meta- analysis which confirms the spousal support theory that I’ve referred to :Career choice in management and entrepreneurship: a research companion. Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar, 2007, pp. 101-126.

Full text available at at research website of the London School of Economics (http://eprints.lse.ac.uk)


3 thoughts on “Wage Outrage

  1. When both partners are working, there is still house work that needs to be done. And unless they are hiring someone else to do all of their house work (which is not a common case), the house work still remains unpaid and would still benefit the society in exactly the same way. If the state wants to be fair, then it should compensate even when both partners are working, because, like I said, that labor is still unpaid.

    The reality is that in today’s world, the choice of staying back exclusively to take care of home front is a privilege. It usually means that the couple is in a good financial situation and can manage on one income (unless of course, if it is some country that actually looks down up women working) and want to have a better quality of life. I can’t imagine a government compensating someone who thinks they have enough money to not work.


    • Good points!

      The truth is that I really don’t know if there’s a shred of evidence to prove that there is more ‘value addition’ to a man with a SAHW.
      For eg.a study which compares the career trajectories and pay of men who have SAHW versus single men or men with working wives?

      I’ve used this assumption in my blog because legally the ‘value addition’ theory is accepted in courts while deciding alimony etc.

      In a purely capitalist economy, it would make no sense to give tax breaks / paid leave for personal choices of any sort- including staying at home or having children.
      But governments have to be seen as ‘family friendly’, so have to come up with policies that seem as such.
      My suggestion is also based within this structure- the ubiquitous social rewarding of certain choices that happen to be unfair to single,childless men and women 🙂

      In India, however, there is an added problem of not ‘allowing’ women to work- so I really wouldn’t mind the government giving tax incentives to people creating assets for those women?

      In the West, you’re right-it’s BS.


  2. I personally feel it’s not right for the govt to pay the stay at home wife/mom etc., it’s their choice that benefits them, let him pay. It’s not like those who work outside dont work at home,

    If they pay someone to work at home then they should pay me and my spouse too, we work outside ( paid by the company) and still come home and manage the housework ( paid by govt) wow lovely double paychecks. what’s not to like about that.


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