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Household services and economic growth in the United States, 1870-1930

Barnet Wagman and Nancy Folbre

Feminist Economics, 1996, vol. 2, issue 1, 43-66

Abstract: This paper explores the role of nonmarket household services in the growth and development of the U.S. economy, in the period between 1870 and 1930. In the first section, we review previous efforts to estimate the value and composition of household output, and sketch a descriptive account of the “domestic service sector,” broadly defined to encompass both paid domestic servants and women primarily engaged in nonmarket household production for family members. The historical composition of this more broadly defined labor force reveals the longstanding economic significance of services which were factored into output and growth statistics only after being transferred to the market economy. In the second section, we present estimates and sensitivity analysis of per capita GNP growth that include nonmarket household services. We find that the inclusion of nonmarket household services substantially alters the trajectory of economic growth over this period.

Keywords: Growth; household; nonmarket; GNP; services; domestic (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1996
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DOI: 10.1080/738552685

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Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:2:y:1996:i:1:p:43-66