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House warning

india Updated: Mar 10, 2009 23:00 IST
Hindustan Times
House warning

Finally, it’s out in the open. Motherhood and apple pie come at a price. At least idlis do, if a group of doughty housewives manages to convince the Kerala government to pay them a salary and pension for being home-makers. The soon to be set up housewives’ union in Wayanad is on to a good idea, considering economics literally translates into the science of keeping a house. Our courts have taken stabs at tagging monetary worth on a housewife’s labour, now it’s left to the nanny state to come up with a workable formula.

Mind you, it’s not as simple as adding up the cost of employing a maid, baby-sitter, cook, private tutor, et al — the matter is complicated by something called opportunity cost, which, in essence, prices labour on the basis of what could be earned from the next best use. Take a lecturer, for instance, who chooses to stay at home to raise children and keep house. To compensate her equitably, she would have to be paid a lecturer’s wage multiplied by the hours she puts into domestic chores. An ordinary graduate should command higher home-making wages than a college dropout.

Those women in Wayanad want a minimum wage. Give it to them, and to every home-maker in the country.

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