9/05/2019

Your work is more than your job

"When we hear the phrase “work-life balance,” we often think of keeping the work day, what we do for pay, within its proper limits relative to other responsibilities, such as family, friends, and faith. Certainly keeping appropriate boundaries is important in our increasingly complex and demanding lives. But by limiting “work” to what we do for a paycheck we set up a dynamic that invites such conflict in the first place.

Economists like the phenomenon of waged work because it is something that is relatively easy to measure. We can calculate how much someone gets paid per hour, how many hours they work, and come up with an idea of how much they have contributed to economic growth. This is much more difficult for things that do not have such an obvious price. It is apparent, for instance, that the work done inside the home by family members, whether a stay-at-home parent or chores before or after work and school, is productive labor. But is also work that is difficult to capture in standard economic measures. The care of children provided by a mother and father do not directly contribute to gross domestic product (GDP), while that done for pay by a childcare center or daycare is more easily measured and therefore more often seen as economically productive."