“A majority of stay-home moms and dads are not only working as parents and housekeepers; they also serve as unpaid support and teaching staff for local public schools, unpaid case managers and caregivers for sick and elderly relatives, and unpaid volunteers/part-time help for a wide variety of social services and programs including libraries, hospitals, art, music, and sports programs, and political organizations,” Bitch Ph.D. writes.

“In this regard we haven’t, as a society, actually moved much *at all* in the last 50 years. The volunteer mom brigade *looks* a little less ladies-who-lunchy. . . . But cell phones and yoga pants aside, we’re doing the same stuff. . . .

“It’s not strictly a question of whether or not the ‘working’ parent should be ‘paying’ the at-home parent a wage for housekeeping and childrearing (through alimony, split incomes, separate IRAs, or what have you), or whether the government should be paying social security to stay-home moms (see here and here for more on that last one, and if you haven’t read Crittenden’s book yet, for god’s sake do so). It’s also that we still don’t even fucking recognize the work being done as work; that we don’t recognize that the women who do it are extremely vulnerable economically; that their cell phones and nice houses and koi ponds don’t prevent them from being one divorce away from poverty, or well on the way to an indigent old age; and that, to be blunt, we owe them. We owe them respect, economic security, recognition, and status.”

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One of the few economists who takes this point seriously is Nancy Folbre in The Invisible Heart.