Excerpt from The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Price of Motherhood

Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued

by Ann Crittenden

The Price of Motherhood
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2001, 323 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2002, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Every now and then, someone calculates what a family would have to pay for a mother's services. In one such exercise, a mother's worth was estimated at $508,700 per year in wages alone, not counting retirement, health, and other benefits. This astronomical sum was arrived at by adding up the median annual salaries of the seventeen occupations a mother is expected to perform, from child-rearing, cooking, and cleaning to managing household finances and resolving family emotional problems. A more realistic assessment would probably value a mother's work at the level of a middle manager, plus the additional occasional services of a psychologist, a financial planner, a chauffeur, and so on. This package could easily add up to $100,000 a year -- or $100,000 a year more than a mother is paid. 

"No one's crazy enough to work for free but moms," says Ric Edelman, whose firm, Edelman Financial Services, made the $500,000 calculation." And no one has enough money to hire a good mom . . . . From that perspective our mothers are indeed priceless." 

Unpaid female caregiving is not only the life blood of families, it is the very heart of the economy. A spate of new studies reveals that the amount of work involved in unpaid child care is far greater than economists ever imagined. Indeed, it rivals in size the largest industries of the visible economy. By some estimates, even in the most industrialized countries the total hours spent on unpaid household work -- much of it associated with child-rearing -- amount to at least half of the hours of paid work in the market. Up to 80 percent of this unpaid labor is contributed by women. 

This huge gift of unreimbursed time and labor explains, in a nutshell, why adult women are so much poorer than men -- even though they work longer hours than men in almost every country in the world. One popular economics textbook devotes four pages to problems of poverty without once mentioning the fact that the majority of poor people are women and children. The author never considers that this poverty might be related to the fact that half the human race isn't paid for most of the work it does. 

In economics, a "free rider" is someone who benefits from a good without contributing to its provision: in other words, someone who gets something for nothing. By that definition, both the family and the economy are classic examples of free riding. Both are dependent on female caregivers who offer their labor in return for little or no compensation. 

*Endnotes were omitted.

Copyright © 2001 Ann Crittenden

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.