What Are We Worth?

alexb2016's picture

Marilyn Waring's work, Counting for Nothing, presents the role of women as an invaluable asset whose value needs to be imputed in the gross domestic product of the nation. Waring analyzes and criticizes different ways economists have attempted to measure women's domestic labor (household labor and production), such as measuring opportunity cost, but doesn't ever present her own suggestion for its measurement. That got me brainstorming; how do you place a value on women's domestic labor? We could argue that reproduction, or the act of raising a child is intangible capitol as an asset that cannot be physically measured. Waring also believes that imputing value on reproduction wouldn't be morally correct. However, almost every other part of women's household labor can be physically measured in the economy. First, I thought that measuring value at a per/hour salary rate would be the easiest way to calculate women's domestic product. However, I forgot to take into account the different level of skill it takes for a woman to do various jobs--it really varies from cleaning to cooking to maintenance, all of which correspond to different careers with different salaries in the economy. A little of topic (but isn't that what our Serendip postings are for? :))...this past weeks reading reminded me of a discussion my AP English class had senior year. We wanted to calculate what a human life was worth. First, we thought of life insurance, but then realized that was just people paying to have risk taken away from them. My idea was that we could pool together all the currency in the world, and then divide it by the population, so that each person was technically "worth" the same. My best friend, Sydney, was a little more philosophical and proposed that each person should be worth one unit of their nation's currency, because it represented hope and the first step to building a nation. What do you guys think about this, and Waring's writing? Sorry this is being posted at night, I just came from work! 

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Hannah's picture

I think that if we were to

I think that if we were to try and figure out what each person was worth we would come to the same conclusion as Waring. When a value is placed on everything than this becomes rediculus and the value is lost. So, it would end up that nothing has any value at all. 

Shengjia-Ashley's picture

Another interesting idea on

Another interesting idea on Serendip this week!

 After very rough estimation, I am afraid my "unit" of my nation's currency would not even be enough to support me through 4 years of Bryn Mawr College. Oh! If going to a college abroad is the best alternative, I must have taken a lot of opportunity cost from those who chose not to go to college at all! I suddently feel so guilty. And I propably spent more on food and cloth right now than my "unit" could allow me too.

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