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The invisible
value of care work





Women in Germany perform 72 billion hours of unpaid care work annually. That is more than all of the working hours of employed persons in Germany put together. Although care work provides a fundamental service to our society, without which it would be unable to function, it is not given nearly enough attention. In a short new paper, we demonstrate the value of unpaid care labour and how unevenly it is divided between men and women. 

Care work enables value added

  • The majority of unpaid care work in Germany continues to land on the shoulders of its women. This includes tasks such as childcare, caring for relatives, housework and errands.
  • Annually, men and women over 18 perform over 117 billion hours of unpaid care labour. Of those, 72 billion are accounted for by women.
  • For comparison: The work volume of the national economy, or the total of number of working hours performed in Germany, amounts to 60.6 billion hours per year. The time spent performing care work in Germany goes exceeds that spent in gainful employment.
  • With 40.3 billion hours, more than a third of those unpaid hours are allocated to childcare and caring for relatives, of which women provide 28.2 billion and men only 12.1 billion hours.
  • If this childcare and caring for relatives was paid at the average rate, it would have a monetary value of around 1.2 trillion euros. For comparison: GDP for the year 2021 amounted to 3.6 trillion euros.
  • The uneven distribution of care labour disadvantages women in their working life, but also in terms of their income and retirement provision. 

Links and downloads

To the paper (in German)

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Dr David Juncke

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Prognos is one of the oldest economic research centres in Europe. Founded at the University of Basel, Prognos experts have been conducting research for a wide range of clients from the public and private sectors since 1959 – politically independent, scientifically sound.

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