EAVA By / September 7, 2022

What if care work were recognised as a driver of sustainable growth?

Care work can be defined as ‘the provision of personal services to meet those basic physical and mental needs that allow a person to function at a socially determined acceptable level of capability, comfort and safety’. Everyone provides or receives care at some point in their life.

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Written by Meenakshi Fernandes and Cecilia Navarra.

Care work provided in homes and institutions is a public good that is under-valued by society. Care workers are more likely to have low earnings and precarious working conditions. About 9 in 10 care workers are women.

Most unpaid care work within households is carried out by women. The ‘unpaid care penalty’ for women in the EU, which is equivalent to the earnings they lost because of this unbalanced distribution of care responsibilities, is estimated to reach €242 billion per year.

EU action in the care sector has the potential for high returns for society. Fostering the ‘equal earner – equal carer model’ could generate benefits of between €24 billion and €48 billion a year. EU action to promote affordable, high-quality care could produce an additional €90 billion to €160 billion in benefits each year.

This updates a June 2022 EPRS briefing with new data and clarifications on the estimation methods used.


Read the complete briefing on ‘What if care work were recognised as a driver of sustainable growth?‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

Read also: European care strategy: Pre-legislative synthesis of national, regional and local positions on the European Commission’s initiative


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