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«State expenditure of the Canton of Basel-Stadt and unpaid work Summary Mirjam von Felten This study examines the question of whether cuts in public ...»

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Unpaid versus paid work The following table compares the work volume for paid and unpaid labour and the income and the monetary value resulting from this work.6 Table 4 shows that residents of Basel-Stadt devote 30 million more hours a year to unpaid labour than to paid labour. Almost as many hours (164 million) are spent on housework alone (excluding care-giving) as in gainful employment (173 million). It is important to note that unpaid housework and family chores are as important an economic factor in terms of time and value as gainful employment.

5 Table 3 shows averages per head of population groups living in Basel-Stadt. Because the number of persons varies, averages cannot be aggregated.

6 The volume of paid work is calculated on the basis of normal working hours and paid overtime for persons with a main job and second job. As with unpaid labour, annual leave and absences are not deducted. Paid labour and hence the volume of paid working hours was calculated. Income is gross and includes the employee’s and employer’s social security contributions. In the case of the 12% of employed persons who did not disclose their income in the survey, this was estimated using regression analysis.

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Source: Schweizerische Arbeitskräfteerhebung (SAKE) 2000 (Calculations: A. Pfeifer, compiled by M. Madoerin) ( ) Sample very small State expenditure of the Canton of Basel-Stadt and unpaid work 111 Gender-responsive budget analysis in the Canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland Without unpaid labour, our lives would be much more difficult. Gainful employment would be impossible, because to be fit for work, people depend on daily provisioning. Nothing could be sold if it were not for the unpaid economic sector of „Shopping“, on which the time spent (21 million hours) is equivalent to the time devoted to gainful employment in the IT, real estate and research and development sectors (20.2 million hours). Almost as much time is devoted by Basel-Stadt residents to cleaning and tidying the house (28 million hours) as to industrial and commercial activities (28.8 million hours). If women were relieved of only 10% of their unpaid work, this would correspond to the time devoted by all Basel-Stadt residents in the construction sector (13.2 million hours).

By way of further comparison, in 1999 the primary household income of BaselStadt residents,7 including social security, was around CHF 8.6 billion, while the revenue reported by private corporations amounted to CHF 6.1 billion. In 2000 the value of unpaid labour performed by residents in their own home and for other households amounted to around CHF 5.7 billion, i.e. two-thirds of the households’ primary disposable income. Thus it may be seen that the living standards of people resident in Basel-Stadt is heavily dependent on unpaid labour.

The monetary values8 listed in Table 4 demonstrate how problematic the monetary valuation of unpaid labour is. Gender gaps in salaries are reflected in the valuation of unpaid labour: in terms of gainful employment, nursing and caregiving jobs (performed mainly by women) are relatively poorly paid. Hence unpaid work in this area is accorded a relatively low value. While women perform 55% of the total volume of paid and unpaid work, they account for only 50% of the total value of paid and unpaid work.

In summary, it may be said that the data on the canton of Basel-Stadt lead to

the same findings as all the surveys conducted on unpaid labour in OECD countries:

• Residents of the canton devote more time to unpaid labour than to gainful employment.

• There is an imbalance not only in the distribution between paid and unpaid labour performed by men and women, but also in types of paid and unpaid labour performed by men and women.

• Overall, women work more than men.

7 This figure covers all types of income generated by households, including social security contributions and taxes. Source: Statistical Yearbook of the Canton of Basel-Stadt 2001, p. 104 8 See footnote 1.

State expenditure of the Canton of Basel-Stadt and unpaid work 112 Gender-responsive budget analysis in the Canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland Unpaid labour and the economy of the canton of Basel-Stadt Comparison with gross domestic product So far we have compared the paid and unpaid work performed by residents of Basel-Stadt, the time devoted by them to such work and the added value of this work. The canton of Basel-Stadt is a centre of employment for a region that stretches far beyond the national and cantonal borders. Fewer employed persons reside in the canton than work there. The gross domestic product (GDP) of the canton of Basel-Stadt represents the value of goods produced and services provided in companies and the state within a one-year period. Consequently, the GDP also includes the work performed by commuters. It is an indicator of economic performance but does not factor in the contribution made by unpaid labour. Table 5 shows what the cantonal GDP would amount to if the cash value of unpaid labour were also factored in: the result is 33% higher. In Switzerland as a whole the contribution made by unpaid labour to the monetary value of the GDP is significantly higher – almost 60%. The difference is attributable to the fact that there are significantly fewer commuters (from neighbouring countries) in relation to the resident population in Switzerland, than in the canton of Basel-Stadt.





Table 5

Economic aspects of unpaid labour:

Comparison with the GDP of the canton of Basel-Stadt for 2000

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Unpaid care work as a real tax Unpaid labour, and in particular caring for children and looking after adults in need of care, could be interpreted as a form of real tax. Just as farmers used to be obliged to surrender one tenth of their harvest, some of the unpaid services rendered to the community serve as a tithe. Whatever the case, raising children or looking after sick individuals can be regarded as part of a public service that benefits everyone. This aspect should be treated as such in economic theory and statistics (Bakker 1998:21).

If there were no next generation to bring up, there would be no successor generation of gainfully employed and hence no retirement provision for pensioners, whether in the form of pensions or retirement and survivors’ insurance or disability benefits.

State expenditure of the Canton of Basel-Stadt and unpaid work 113 Gender-responsive budget analysis in the Canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland And the absence of care for the sick, whether paid or unpaid, would constitute a violation of basic human rights. At the very least, therefore, unpaid care-giving and some unpaid housework can be viewed as a public service in terms of its economic function, and therefore be equated to tax revenue for the state.

Table 6 Unpaid labour and fiscal revenues in the canton of Basel-Stadt9 (2000)*

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Source: Statistisches Jahrbuch des Kantons Basel-Stadt 2001, p. 273 * excluding tax on real estate gains, fire service substitution tax and tax on lump-sum capital payments Table 6 shows that the contribution made by women to public welfare (caring in the household, services performed for neighbours and relatives, voluntary work) is more than double (CHF 836 million in all) the amount of income tax paid by companies to the canton (CHF 390 million). In addition there are the extra household chores necessitated by childcare and looking after adults in need of care. The contribution that women make to bringing up children and looking after adults in need of care is not reflected in the level of influence women exert over public finances.

The last table shows the relationships between public expenditure and unpaid labour. As Table 7 shows, the volume of unpaid work is strikingly high compared with similar goods and services provided by the state.

9 Natural and legal persons also pay tax to the Federal Government. In 1996 legal persons paid CHF

328.4 million in federal taxes, while natural persons paid CHF 217.1 million. Some of this money flows back to the canton as income: in 2000 this amounted to CHF 99.8 million. As with VAT, this is not included in the calculation.

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Source: Statistisches Jahrbuch des Kantons Basel-Stadt 2001, p. 273 and 296ff.

The value of care-giving performed by women in the household and assistance provided to friends and relatives (CHF 836 million) corresponds roughly to the cost of personnel in hospital, kindergartens and primary (elementary)schools (CHF 681 million). The dimensions indicate the effort (including financial endeavours) that would be required to replace only some of the work performed by women by state activities.

Conclusions on public expenditure, welfare and the redistribution of unpaid labour The dimensions presented in this part with regard to unpaid labour reveal the magnitude of the task facing us when it comes to gender equality. The problem with gender equality is not only that unpaid and paid work, and hence control over disposable income, is unevenly distributed; it is also due to the fact that women work more hours yet devote less time to paid labour than men. The uneven distribution of paid and unpaid labour acts as a huge redistribution mechanism to the

detriment of women. This may be illustrated by the following rough calculation:

1. Had working women in the canton of Basel-Stadt earned as much on average per hour of paid work as men in 2000, their gross income, including the employer’s contribution, would have been close to CHF 740 million higher than was actually the case. This is roughly equivalent to the amount of cantonal and federal income tax paid by private corporations in the canton.

State expenditure of the Canton of Basel-Stadt and unpaid work 115 Gender-responsive budget analysis in the Canton of Basel-Stadt, Switzerland

2. If women in the canton of Basel-Stadt were paid the going market rate for the amount of unpaid work they perform in excess of the volume of unpaid work performed by men, they would earn around CHF 1,500 million per year more.

This is more than the amount of income and wealth tax paid to the canton by Basel-Stadt households. Taken together, the income of women would double.

Experts interested in gender equality policies are currently discussing ways of changing this asymmetric distribution between paid and unpaid work. Up to now, economic theory and policy have been predicated on the assumption that unpaid labour is unlimited and available at any time. It was also assumed that the opportunities for women to enter the working world and be assured of equal opportunities at work could be ensured through anti-discrimination schemes in the workplace and in education. This is true for a certain volume of gainful employment and, as the first part of the above calculation shows, a gender equality policy designed specifically for gainful employment remains necessary. But it is of limited use with regard to women’s time budget, particularly those with children.

To a certain extent working women can intensify unpaid work and work more hours. However, this is subject to time constraints and would only be equitable if women had as much free time at their disposal as men. The survey data are impressive, although the volume of unpaid female labour is underestimated: in 2000, women in Basel-Stadt (aged between 15 and 100) devoted roughly 30 million hours more to paid and unpaid labour than men. This major disparity is attributable among other things to the fact that the canton has more female residents than male. In addition, per capita and year, women devote roughly 160 hours more than men to paid and unpaid work. This corresponds to almost four working weeks a year for a full-time position, and constitutes the holidays or free time (important aspects of the living standard) which women lack compared to men.

This raises an extremely important question for gender equality and economic policy: How can women be relieved of the workload of unpaid labour? There are

five main options (Bittmann 1999:27):

1. Through technological progress in the household;

2. By men performing some of the unpaid tasks;

3. By no longer performing some tasks;

4. By the state taking over tasks currently performed by women;

5. By the market taking over household and family chores currently performed by women.



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