The mom salary, or lack thereof
Salary.com has estimated this year’s unpaid “mom salary” at nearly $117,000. Every year around mother’s day, this study estimates the value of stay-at-home mothers using a rudimentary time use survey paired with data on how much it would cost to hire a professional cook, laundry machine operator, janitor, psychologist and more. One of the reasons that the salary hits six figures is that in this imaginary world, parents are paid for overtime!
What you won’t read in most newspaper articles is that Salary.com also estimates a salary for additional work done by working mothers, and it’s a substantial $68,405 a year.
They also estimate the value of stay at home fathers, at slightly less than their female counterparts:
Despite dad’s long hours at home, the research indicates that mothers still typically assume a disproportionate share of the workload at home, even if they’re working outside the home. The average stay-at-home dad reported working 80.2 hours per week in his role while stay-at-home moms reported an average of 91.8 hours per week.
Commenters on Feministing have been revising that initial $117,000 downwards by confusing the value of informal caregiving services with the caregiver’s opportunity cost – in this case, how much stay at home parents would make if they left home and re-entered the formal sector. Needless to say, that’s an entirely different issue.
All of this is a pop culture approach to something that feminist scholars have acknowledged for years – women do a whole lot of informal, unpaid labour. With that in mind, I went looking for a scholarly equivalent of this study, but strangely enough I couldn’t find it. There are studies on hours of work – remember this post – but there must be some child care equivalent of this study on the economic value of informal caregiving for the disabled, right? Perhaps one of you can help me out in comments.