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Do you think house wives should be paid a wage?

by Jennifer Muirhead (follow)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma ~ Eartha Kitt.
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young housewife
A young house wife. Painted by Alexey Tyranov (1801-1859)

Campaigners in Italy have called for housewives to be paid a wage so they can have some financial independence. Do you think this is a good idea? What effect do you think it might have on the perceived worth of household chores?

#Home duties
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Being a stay at home mother/housewife myself naturally it would suit me to be paid a wage so I'm biased, but I do think it would be good for housewives and society at large. Some women who experience domestic violence find themselves unable to get out of their situation because they have no money of their own. Many women over fifty face homelessness because after years of housework and caring for their children they have very little money. Paying women who work at home a living wage would prevent these problems and give these women some dignity and sense of agency.

It might also help change the way people see housework. Maybe if it was something you got paid for people would be ready to acknowlege that it is, in fact, work and not ignore its existence or assume that housewives and stay at home mothers "do nothing all day."
And while I'm at it, I would like a unicorn and a neverending pack of (palm oil free) Tim Tams.
Jennifer the Painting you picked!! it's so lovely.
by jonaja
I would questions being paid by whom? I don't think we could be paid the amount of worth. It is a nice idea though. Would make it an equal playing field so that we don't always feel at the beck and call of the partner/husband for money. It can be awfully degrading.
You can stay at home and NOT do the housework. But if you do want to do the housework then that is your choice.
by fran.
Although being a housewife can be as hard as any other job, I don't think they should be paid for doing it. In essence, you could call it the equivalent of being self-employed, and and the self employed only get paid by the money they generate themselves, so why should it be any different for a house wife? And what about a house-husband? Would the rule apply to them? It would be discriminating not to.
I would assume it would apply to a person of either sex who works at home. The thing is that the work we do does have an economic value. If I didn't do the cleaning and care for the kids my husband would have to pay someone else to do it because he is not home to do it himself and has only so many hours in a day. Why should that person be paid, but not me? Why is my time and effort worth less? Don't get me wrong, I have no idea whatsoever, if, or how this could ever work, but I do think it's interesting to think about.
That person should be paid because they have been requested to do so by the person the house belongs to. They are cleaning up someone else's mess and looking after someone else's kids. If it is is your own house then it is your own responsibility for the mess you make and the kids you have.
Ah, but it would be the equal responsibility of both parents, and very rarely are the jobs actually divided that way. It wouldn't be possible for most people to split it fifty fifty because it would be very difficult, in some cases impossible (once travel time is factored in) to hold down a full time job while doing even half of the work involved. So, one person does less and earns more (or all of the) money, and the other one is just supposed to suck it up?
Getting married (or having a partner) and having kids is a lifestyle decision, and people know when going into them what kind of compromises that will involve. They can't expect other people to pay for the kind of family life they decide to have.
What if, for the sake of argument, the working partner paid the non working partner a wage? I don't know how you'd work out what their time was worth, but it would be an agreement between two people, not imposed on anybody else.
That could work, but in that case I don't see the point, because their is no additional family income. Why not just have a joint bank account so both can access the working partner's earnings?

Also, I don't know about you, but I would feel a bit like I was being treat as a child receiving pocket money for doing chores.
The point would be to secure savings for the non working partner so that they would not be left with nothing if the couple split up, though like you said, that would only be applicable if for some reason you don't have a joint bank account. As for being treated as a child, you are right, it might feel that way, but I would think that receiving a regular amount in your bank account to do what you wanted with would be less humiliating than having to go to your spouse to ask for money whenever you needed it. Earning your own money some other way would presumably be preferable to either of those things.
Agreed. This has been an interesting debate. You made a good choice of topic.
Thanks. In case you were wondering, the idea of a husband paying his wife a wage (as opposed to it being paid by the government, which I think was the idea in the article I linked to) came up in, of all places, an episode of Neighbours I saw once. A couple on the show (Carl and Susan, in case you're a fan) did things that way. It was unusual so it stuck in my mind.
And what was the response there?
It was just mentioned in passing that it was something they did. Nobody else really said anything about it as far as I can remember (this was a long time ago).
From memory his reasoning for doing it was that he couldn't do the hours he worked and made the money he made (as a doctor) without her help so he considered some of the money rightfully hers.
No way.I think they do what they do for the family and making it commercial seems unfair.

Being a house wife isn't a job to be paid.Its a concious decision.It has to be respected.Also there are a million ways a person can gain financial independence being at home.
What job isn't a conscious decision? Do people who go out to work and earn money not do that for their family too? I am really just playing Devil's Advocate here, but it interests me. What ways can you suggest for a person to have financial independence while staying at home.
You are absolutely right.Every job is done for the family's welfare and is a concious decision.But it also has a element of unhappiness to it.You have competition to deal with, your boss, appraisal frustration and many more.So being at home is something one feels happy about and not have any complaints other than not being able to spend shopping time with girlfriends :)

My point is, it should not be labelled as a 'job' .

If you were to how do u decide the wage? Being at home is not a job because at a job you do your work based on your skill and get paid based on your output.Will this system work at home? How do u decide the price to be paid for baking a son a cake or making the bed for the kids or picking them up from school?

It might sound emotional but being paid for an emotional action based on love cannot have a price in any part of the world.
by Sasha
Oh and forgot to reply to 'how to make money at home', to start with write articles in hubgarden, get a food handling certificate , bake some cookies or cakes and take them to the nearest market, with your council's permission run cooking classes, teach dance lessons if you are good at it and make take away meals from home. There are plenty of options if we were to look at it.
by Sasha
Are you a house wife/stay at home mother? I ask because your comment that it is "is something one feels happy about and not have any complaints other than not being able to spend shopping time with girlfriends" seems bizarre to me. Of course you can have complaints about it. It's never going to be 100% enjoyable every single second. That's totally unrealistic. I love my kids but there are certainly times they drive me crazy, and there are unpleasant aspects to my day (cleaning up poo and wee, breaking up fights, trying to calm down a screaming or injured child, trying to entertain a child who is in a mood and doesn't want to do anything, dealing with stuff that has been broken, having people at social gatherings say things like "well there's no point asking what you've been doing lately" because being a SAHM I can't possibly have anything of value to contribute to the conversation...) and I have just as much right to complain about those things as someone in a paid job has to complain about a rough day at work.

Being a SAHM most definitely can have "an element of unhappiness to it". Lacking day to day interaction with other adults bothers some people more than others, as can lack of intellectual challenge if you were used to studying or working before. Conversely, working outside the home makes some people very happy. Do they have less of a right to their money because they enjoyed making it?

I don't know if there is any realistic way you could pay housewives a wage, or whether that is a good idea, but it certainly should be acknowleged that it is work.

Those are all great ideas for making some pocket money, though I'm not sure about achieving actual financial independence (in the sense of having money put aside for your retirement, the way someone in paid work has superannuation) while caring for preschool age children. I'm sure its' possible, just a matter of how much you are prepared to sacrifice (hobbies, a social life, time with your spouse, sleep...)
I think you and I are making the same point about having complaints.I never said there wouldn't be complaints.Missing shopping with girlfriends was just an example.

End of the day I wouldn't want to be paid for doing things/household chores for my family.
by Sasha
No you said "not have any complaints other than" that, not that it would be one of many.

Fair enough, I don't want to be either really, though I would like our work to be acknowleged as real and important.

Of course if the wife died, husband would have to get someone and pay them.

But lets be smart here, it's your home....your children....your house work!
I can't believe one should be paid, to clean your own mess and to be paid to look after your own children? What!!

I use to have a part time job, and be a house wife.That money was mine.

I have never heard of people getting paid for their life choice to be a mother and wife.

I have to stop right here, or my head will come off from shaking it.

Why do you consider childcare and housework to be the responsibility of just one partner?
I don't but if the husband is out working....then it falls to the wife.Or Visa-Versa.

by jonaja
Fair enough.
Great question and the answer is yes! I think it is a wonderful idea for everyone. As a stay at home mum myself I would feel much better about what I do and more acknowledgement if I got paid for it. Many households would have less money stress also.
Great idea in theory, but I'm not sure where the money would come from. It would probably end up just being a government handout and not based on doing a good job, so could be subject to abuse. Conversely, money to stay home and raise children would be wonderful.
It may be a good idea, but who would actually give the money -the Government?
In that case, NO I don;t think so. If a man or woman decided to be a stay at home Mum or Dad, they do it because they want a baby generally, and I believe they need to plan so that they can afford to bring up a baby.
by Finy
I have been working before and after marriage until we moved to Australia. I came as a dependent with my husband, leaving my career for the time being. My husband transfers some money to my account every time he gets his salary. Its not a wage, its so that I feel financially independent. So that I don't feel dependent on him for every small thing I wish to buy.

I don't spend much so in a way its a saving. Both are happy at the end of the day!

What are your comments on that?
That sounds like a good idea if you're both happy with it.
Being a stay at home mum, I don't consider myself to be a housewife but rather a homemaker, ie, being present for my kids whenever they need me, providing a loving environment for my family, a clean house to live in, clean clothes to wear, healthy food and the list goes on....and being paid for this job would mean receiving a payment for the love I have for them. I know this sounds emotional but I won't feel comfortable about that.

I sure won't mind becoming more financially independent,( I mean, this was my very first reason for becoming a writer for hubgarden ;)) but to the extent of being paid to be a mother for my children and caring for my husband, no!

For me it would be like paying the maid after a day's work.
Assuming that the house wife has a husband that loves her, this would not be an issue. My dad gave the entire pay package to my mum unopened. In the day it was cash in an envelope. He then went out to work on the week end to earn some casual money for his own needs.
I did the same thing by giving my wife full access to all funds and never challenging the spending. She was to be a full time carer for the children after she claimed that it was too hard to hold a job and run the home.
It turned out that in her spare time was put to use committing adultery while I worked seven days a week including public holidays trying to raise the money to survive. It was ok though because she left me with the broken hearted teenager child to care for. She had plenty of money from the settlement. I got the debt. Getting a wage won’t change anything but becoming a real woman who loves her family certainly will?

Although this may appear revolutionary, personally I'm not in favor because of my background. In our house, Mom and Dad shared almost all household chores and when we grew up to a certain age we began contributing too.
Even now, my wife and I contribute, though not equally. And the effort for the tasks cannot be quantified nor can you quantify the quality because of the thoughts, love and care that go in to each work or work product.
And the question of who pays whom may not be answered too!
Utopia: Maintain harmony in the household and diligently budget your finances and put aside a sum for each partner on a regular basis as savings not to be touched by others, unless in exigency. That will give the financial freedom as well as allow is to save for the rainy day.
Who is going to pay them? The tax payer that has to go out to work? Who is going to monitor that they are doing a full days work, not sitting having coffee, watching tv, chatting with friends, on the computer, reading a book etc. Does gardening count as part of their job or is that considered a pleasure? Most have dishwashers and automatic washing machines, so they only need to be loaded and unloaded. So how many hours a day would you get paid for. If you children are home all day you would get more that if your kids we'd at school all day. You would need to keep a log book of your hours and what tasks you did. Someone would need to check that you have done your job to warrant your pay. There would be uproar from those that worked hard getting no more that those that sat around all day, you would need a union.
One time a woman's pride and joy was to successfully bring up a family and run a household and never expect to be paid.

Dad used to give Mum a housekeeping allowance from which she paid for food and any clothing etc for us or herself. I remember once that she scrimped and saved to buy an Electrolux vacuum cleaner, and was so afraid he would consider her extravagant, she hid it under THEIR bed.He slept above it for years without twigging. Shows you how much housework he did, but Mum chose to stay at home with the four kids and managed us and the house, as well as volunteering at tuckshop, my choir, brownies etc. As she said in her last years, the 'fifties were the best years to raise kids, and I think I have to agree with that.
Mum never complained about this situation. Dad was a good provider, we had regular beach holidays, and went without very little. As a couple who went through The Depression, they knew how to budget and never spent on unnecessary items (except when Dad took me to the Show and spoiled me rotten). As self-educated people who had to leave school early because of family circumstances, they valued education highly, and never stinted on expenditure in that regard. Theirs was an ideal way of sharing responsibilities, including financial, for that era. How times have changed!
by grann
No. Having a family is a choice, whether conscious or as a byproduct of other sexual choices.

And why should housewives and not househusbands get paid?

Most of us want to have families, so we should also be prepared to do what we can to ensure that happens in the best circumstances possible. I don't believe those who wish to cease contributing to the gene pool should have to pay for others who want to continue doing so.

I do believe however that both males and females should have the choice to say at home if they can afford it, but there is currently a gender culture-disparity from that perspective.
by kimp
I would assume that if housewives were paid house husbands would be too. I certainly wouldn't argue otherwise. The question was in response to a proposal by an Italian woman linked to above who mentioned housewives specificially.

The way things are set up in Australia currently those who don't wish to have kids already contribute to things like state based education. This ultimately benefits everybody because we get an educated population out of it.
Valid points Jennifer.
by kimp
Currently I am playing domestic god - but I wouldn't want to be paid for it.

I'm happy for the intrinsic rewards like a "well done, this place looks amazing". If that changes though, I'll let you all know!
I've read all the responses, and initially my response was yes, whoever stays home should be paid, but I was thinking more along the lines of an allowance from the government. However, after reading all the replies, I am tending to agree with Bryony on the point that people who get married and have children are making a conscious decision as an adult and it's a lifestyle choice. There are so many loopholes that it would be almost impossible to set up such an allowance by the government, and besides, it would be a huge portion of the budget and taxes would have to go higher. I don't think that the lifestyle choices of married people should have an effect on the whole population. so my final thought is that No, moms or dads who stay home shouldn't be paid.
No but a weekly stipend to care of my needs such as makeup, toiletries, for the salon etc
by Gia
Ridiculous! Where would the money come from? If you can't afford to stay at home, get a job. But then I don't believe that women should be paid to have babies either - that's just my opinion!

There are a lot of external factors that impact the answer to this question. The first would be, that it could not be limited to housewives--but to house-people. It would have to include men and trans and everything.
Secondly, where would they get the money from? Taxes? But we'd be paying taxes for money that we'd essentially be receiving straight back.
Also, would it depend on how wealthy you already are? What if you clearly do not need an extra stay-at-home wage? Could you still apply for one?
I think this is really based upon the individual. It is your decision on how to go about these things. It's not perfect, but it can work. If anything, there should be a requirement for the working person to provide for their partner, which is already sort of in place. Divorce often leads to a split of the funds.
But there are things like domestic violence that make it difficult. But that's another problem in itself and I think there are other ways to solve that.
While the stay-at-home people deserve recognition, it should come primarily from their partner.
Just WHO is going to pay them? Partner? Good ol' Taxpayers', yet again?
Stupid idea.
I agree donjo. When these people are getting all cutesy about marriage and kids inter alia, they better understand that SOMEONE has to do the housework and look after the kids and that that would automatically fall on the person that is staying home. Jeebus, everyone is looking for a handout.
by fran.
I agree with jillr & donjo (and others). No-one asked you to breed and/or stay home. It's a choice you made. Do those of us who have consciously chosen not to have children and go out to work every day get some sort of bonus for not burdening the system? No, of course not. In fact we seem to be forgotten in every budget - it's always tipped in favour of families. If you can't afford it to start with - don't do it!!
That's a great idea then we can have a whole lot more public servants to adminster it all. Then we could means test it to make it "fair". Then we can have a Hugh tax hike to pay for it. Then we could wakeup an realise what a dumb idea that was but realise it was to later to take away the middle class welfare that is is. Then we could sell some more capital to some sovern wealth fund. Then we could all get made redundant when the childs realise that they can hire some corporate supplier for less and pocket the difference. Kids are so smart these days.
I guess if you didn't want to marry you may not feel the need to do it,that is a personal choice as to what and when you feel the need to do it, I 'm not quite sure, I know there are wives that feel they have to do it for cultural reasons, or the husband may not be that understanding to find the home not up to his standards.
When my brother in law was employed in a remote area, and my sister wasn't she negotiated a wage from him. She worked while he worked so it seemed extremely fair to me.
I am fortunate to have a small pension but my husband pays all the household bills. I consider I need to do a certain amount of work that we would otherwise pay someone to do. I work as an artist and have sometimes offered to return to the workforce to contribute, but my husband points out that we would then have to pay someone to do the work I do.
I.m not sure, I've never thought about it, who would pay the wage? and it's the old story, there would be people who would exploit it, just like there is with some girls/women who have babies just for the money.
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