Chapter 21: Household-related services

The transformation of hitherto privately done household work and household-related work into gainful employment is a central element of a change in lifestyle and is considered to be one of the main features of the transformation within the gender regime. With the increase in younger and older one or two-person households and with the erosion of the one-breadwinner model, the demand for services in the household is growing, and it is here that an important future field of action is opening up.

The chapter looks into the determining factors for this transformation of informal work into gainful employment and for possible economic consequences and welfare effects for households and service providers. Necessary explanations of terms are followed by a first potential assessment and status analysis. Employment effects will be evaluated, possibilities for a country comparison examined.


Explanation of terms

A heuristic of the work segment ‘household work’ and ‘household-related work’ will be developed, while taking into account the state of research in industrial sociology and work psychology: What requirements profile do household-related services have? Is the household the place where the services are performed or are they done outside the household? How formalised are these activities? Are they organised as social or market-intermediated services? An expanded concept of household-related services is presumed to reach beyond the classical sectors of nursing, childcare and housework. The activities summed up under this concept will have to be distinguished according to the criteria mentioned.


Potential assessment and status analysis

So far, little is known about the scope and shape of household-related services. Even if a large part of this work is not statistically recorded and is performed in grey areas, the report is to convey basic information about it: How big is the volume of work for household-related services? Who does this work and under which income and work conditions?

The factual labour supply is compared with evaluations regarding the potential demand for paid household services. The socio-cultural and legal determinants are examined: To what extent does a latent demand for support in the household, in care, education etc. exist? Which role is played by the household’s spending power? How do cultural concepts as regards to the shaping of the ‘welfare mix’ as well as patterns of a gender-specific division of labour influence the demand for these services and their institutional regulation?

As the extent and nature of this demand will differ according to the type of household or family (e.g. pensioner households, double employment, families with children etc.), it is sensible to evaluate the factual and the desired ‘welfare mix’ (consisting of private, market-related and welfare provision) in the household and family context.

The ‘blind spots’ that appear when statistically recording this service sector, shall be reduced by taking into account qualitative investigations and by using consumption and consumer statistics. Qualitative studies have also to be included in order to identify and consider the specific qualities (income and work conditions) of service work and work done privately.


Employment effects

Concerning possible employment effects triggered by the change from privately done work into service work, one has to examine the economic, social and cultural determinants for the organisation of paid work in households, the educational, care and nursing sector; also to be examined are the medium and long-term consequences for the social position of service providers and households, for the quality of work and the consumption/income structure. Taking into account the organising method (based on the market, social economy or welfare state), well-founded alternative scenarios for the development of this area of employment will have to be drafted and then examined in socioeconomic modelling regarding their overall effects on the economy.


Country comparison

It has to be examined to what extent and under which institutional, social and economic conditions household work and household-related work are being organised in comparable countries. For country comparisons suitable and empirically indicators will have to be found. However, the real challenge might be to sensitively consider the relevant context factors. In Germany, supply as well as demand will already differ regionally (e.g. between urban and rural regions, between East and West Germany). If possible, such regional differences should also be taken into account in international comparisons.


Responsibility for this chapter

Internationales Institut für empirische Sozialökonomie (INIFES)