The Public Value of Care and the Politics of Womens Work

Jayati Ghosh

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Jayati Ghosh discusses the public value of care services

Part of the lecture series between between UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) and the British Library on Rethinking Public Value and Public Purpose in 21st Century Capitalism.

Care services are taken for granted, unrecognised and unsung in almost all societies. But they contribute hugely to public value: to social well-being, cohesion and stability and to the progress of the economy and its future potential – even though that contribution is missing in the national accounts. Care work is fundamentally relational, which means that it is less likely to be affected by new technologies that replace human labour. So care employment is likely to be a big job generator in the future, particularly if it is provided through decent work engaged in by qualified professionals. 

Investment in care improves people’s welfare, and also has large multiplier effects that generate much greater employment directly and indirectly than investment in infrastructure. Currently, most care work is performed by unpaid and underpaid women, especially in developing societies, which unfortunately affects social attitudes to all work done by women as well as all care work. This needs to change to create happier and more equal societies. Public policy is crucial in determining the extent, coverage and quality of care services as well as the conditions of care workers. The focus has to be on the five Rs: recognise, reward, reduce, redistribute care work and ensure representation of care workers.

This event has taken place, but you can watch a film of it below.

Jayati Ghosh
is Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her research interests include globalisation, international trade and finance, employment patterns, macroeconomic policy, gender issues, poverty and inequality. She has authored and/or edited a dozen books and more than 180 scholarly articles, most recently Demonetisation Decoded: A critique of India’s monetary experiment (with CP Chandrasekhar and Prabhat Patnaik, Routledge 2017), the Elgar Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development (co-edited with Erik Reinert and Rainer Kattel, Edward Elgar 2016) and India and the International Economy, (Oxford University Press 2015). 

Her research output has been recognised through several national and international prizes, including the ILO’s Decent Work Research Prize and the NordSud Award for the Social Sciences in 2010. She is the Executive Secretary of International Development Economics Associates, an international network of heterodox development economists ( She was member of the National Knowledge Commission reporting to the Prime Minister of India from 2005 to 2008, has advised several other governments at different levels and consulted for several international organisations. She also writes regularly for popular media like newspapers, journals and blogs.

In association with the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose


Name: The Public Value of Care and the Politics of Womens Work
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546