What is unpaid female labour worth? Evidence from the Time Use Surveys of Iran in 2008 and 2009

Mahmood Messkoub, Nader Mehri, Mahmood Ghazi-Tabatabai

Time-use, domestic unpaid work, care economy, feminist economics, Iran, Middle East and North Africa, social policy

We have used the urban Time Use Surveys of Iran (TUSI) of 2008 and 2009, several Iranian censuses and our own national survey of the wages of care workers and private tutors to provide the first national estimates of the monetary value of unpaid domestic work of married urban housewives. TUSI covered only urban areas. Urban married housewives carried out most of the care work and home education of children. Adopting a market-based approach, we estimate this unpaid work to be worth US$26 billion in 2008 and US$29 billion in 2009 comprising 8.6% of non-oil GDP in both years. These figures are underestimates because rural women, non-housewife urban women and urban unmarried women are not included in our study. Such unrecorded contributions to national output have important social policy implications because various social policy measures and especially social insurance policies do not cover married housewives in their own right but as dependents of their husbands. Providing a monetary estimate of their unpaid work makes their contribution to the economy visible that should lead to the provision of social insurance against basic contingencies of life such as has health problems, poverty, disabilities and support in old age.