The Home as Factory Floor: Employment and Remuneration of Home-based Workers

Wendy Cunningham, Carlos Ramos Gomez
  • Place of Publication: Washington, D.C.
  • Publisher: The World Bank

Summary: Home-based work, defined as non-professionals who perform market work from their homes, is an increasingly recognized form of employment in Latin America. The majority of the research on this segment of the labor force relies on small sample, qualitative data, which find that home-based workers are women, children, and adults with disabilities with low skills who work long hours for low wages. Using a large random sample, control groups of non-home-based workers, and including men in the analysis, this paper examines the home-based work sector in Brazil, Mexico, and Ecuador in 1999. The results show that in all three countries, women are over-represented among home-based workers, particularly older women, those with low levels of education, and those with children or spouses, unlike men for whom these factors do not matter. Female homebased workers earn 25-60 percent less per hour than do non-home-based working women and they work one-third to one-half as many hours each week. Home-based working men, on the other hand, earn 0-17 percent less than do men who do not work from their homes, and they only work 10 percent fewer hours per week. The wage and work hour gaps for women are largely related to marital status, not the presence of children, suggesting that simply being the primary caregiver in the households, regardless of the actual time constraints (children) is the key factor to differences between home-based
working women and those who work outside of their homes.

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