The value of unpaid chores at home

Chores graphic

The value of unpaid work at home - from gardening to childcare - has been estimated by the official statistics authority.

Transport, care for family and friends, and volunteering are all included in the so-called household satellite account, calculated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

With a total value of just over £1 trillion in 2014 - that is the equivalent of unpaid work valued at £38,162 per UK household over the course of a year.

The ONS says the calculations are important because they show the value of activity carried out unpaid by householders, which could have been contracted to the market.

In other words, it shows the value of all those chores and family responsibilities that people do themselves rather than pay somebody else to do.

So what would this mean for the UK economy were this extra, unpaid, work to be given a value and included in the national accounts?

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The total value of unpaid work in UK homes was estimated to be £1.019 trillion in 2014, according to the latest figures from the ONS.

That is the equivalent of 56.1% of the UK's national output, as measured by GDP. That is a higher proportion than the estimated 52.5% of GDP in 2005.

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Including unpaid work at home in the national accounts would have pushed up economic output faster than has otherwise been the case between 2005 and 2014, by an extra 0.3 percentage points.

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The main growth in unpaid work at home is childcare, owing to an increasing child population and that the equivalent cost of childcare in the private sector has risen. In other words, the price of having somebody professional looking after your children has risen, so that means the equivalent "value" of parents, for example, doing it themselves has also risen.

Overall, informal childcare accounts for 31.5% of this unpaid work at home.

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The value of household transport services - such as, perhaps, driving to work or taking the children to school - has also risen sharply between 2005 and 2014, owing to the increasing price of transport per mile.

Transport accounts for 23.1% of the total.

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Providing and maintaining a home is next on the value list, accounting for 14.7% of this unpaid work.

This area is growing, despite a general decline in the time spent cleaning, doing DIY, and gardening per person between 2005 and 2014, because it would have become more expensive to get someone else in to do the work.

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The remainder is accounted for by giving social care to adults, the preparation of meals, as well as clothing and laundry.

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The hours spent on formal and frequent unpaid volunteering fell by 6% between 2013 and 2014, but was still valued at £23.3bn for the year by the ONS.