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[ox-en] Productive pigs and unproductive children

Productive pigs and unproductive children

Von StefanMz


In our economy-driven society it is taken for granted, that it is »the 
economy« which produces the societally necessary goods. However, this is 
not the case, which can be impressively shown by looking into official 

The german Federal Statistical Office has carried out two »time usage 
surveys«, one in 1991/92 and one in 2001/02, by which it was determined 
what time people use for what kind of activity. In a preface of a 
booklet presenting the results the secretary being responsible at that 
time wrote:

    The fact, that quality of life in our society especially needs those
    works, which are not paid and not taken into account by national
    economy statistics—like housekeeping, child education, civil
    engagement, and honorary works—this fact is vividly and highly
    visible presented by this survey.

Before judging the survey—in contrast to the secretary ending her 
preface with the cited sentence—some results will be presented 
previously. I will focus on data concerning paid and unpaid labor. 
Unpaid labor apply to all household activities (so called household 
production), and care and support as well as honorary activities.

The illustration shown above (click to enlarge) shows the year-volume of 
unpaid and paid labor, in each case for the period of the first and 
second survey. By calculating the proportions of labor being entirely 
necessary in society, one gets a fraction of approx. *63%* unpaid and 
*37%* paid labor for both periods (with a minimal shift towards paid 

However, the home-to-office times had been reported separately. If 
adding these efforts to unpaid labor (which usually should be the case: 
although necessary for gainful employment no money is received for it), 
one gets a fraction of approx. *65.5%* unpaid and *34.5%* paid labor. 
All in all one can assume a relationship of *two third of unpaid labor* 
to *one third of paid labor* .

Furthermore, if one thinks of the findings of Karl Marx, that the value 
of the labor power is determined by the costs to re-/build it, then 
aspects separated by the survey like _regeneration_ (free time, 
recreation, media usage) and _continuing education_ had to be included 
as well. However, since the survey is a time based study, monetary costs 
cannot be determined.

Also assisting times for persons needing care are rather underestimated, 
because »the permanent on-call duty« (Schäfer) is not incorporated. Etc. 
More points could be mentioned more and more generally _questioning the_ 
_treatment of activities of life as being »labor«_—and not only the 
fact, whether they are paid or not.

It is funny that the analysis of the survey data tries to calculate the 
»value« of the unpaid labor. An after tax payment of 6 Euro (1991/92) 
and 7 Euro (2001/02) respectively is assumed. By adding usual social 
services the amounts could be doubled. If one is doing calculations 
already then all pass through used-up and long-lasting goods have to be 
comprised, too. Finally one ends up with a »household enterprise«, which 
could be compared with a »normal« business company. Its GDP (gross 
domestic product) proportion is about 43% and 40% respectively. 
Calculating base is the after tax payment mentioned above for the 
»household enterprise«. If one inserts pre-tax earnings or average 
production wages instead, this would lead to completely different 
results which means, that numerical games based on monetary values are 
basically pointless.

What does it mean when twice as much of necessary activities in a 
society are done unpaid than paid?

First, one should accept the fact, that this is the case! The »economy« 
is—in terms of time—not the most important sphere of societally 
necessary activities. At the same time its logics are totally dominant: 
Only what pays off will be done economically, will be exploited. In this 
logics no exploitation means misfortune, poverty, exclusion, crash.

The »non-economy« is the other side of the »economy« in a double sense: 
Without its contributions »economy« would not be possible. »Non-economy« 
catches all those activities which have to be done but are not 
exploitable. At the same time it is the pool of potentially exploitable 
»worthless« things: More and more activities are graped by the logics of 
exploitation and formed by its image (e.g. commercialized care 
activities which are scaled by minutes, whereas human attention remains 
an alien task).

Finally, it is not astonishing, that both fields are structured by 
gender (the survey analyzes the »non-economy« in respect of gender 
specificity): the »female non-economy« is opposed by a »male economy«. 
Here we find the same general relation of exploitation and not-yet-
exploited: What is currently not the case can emerge in the future. Or 
the other way around: Whose labor power is exploitable, is allowed to do 
the physical and psychic clean-up in the split-off »non-sphere«.

The economist Friedrich List 
<> already knew:

    Who rears pigs is a productive, who rears children is an
    unproductive member of society.

Exactly there we are yet today.


Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend (Hrsg.), Wo 
bleibt die Zeit? Die Zeitverwendung der Bevölkerung in Deutschland 
2001/02 (german)

D. Schäfer, Unbezahlte Arbeit und Haushaltsproduktion im Zeitvergleich, 
in: Statistisches Bundesamt (Hrsg.), Alltag in Deutschland. Analyse zur 
Zeitverwendung, Forum der Bundesstatistik, Band 43, 2004, S. 247-273 

Sources online: time usage survey (german: Zeitbudgeterhebung)

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Contact: projekt

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