The future of unpaid work: Estimating the effects of automation on time spent on housework and care work in Japan and the UK

Ekaterina Hertog*, Setsuya Fukuda, Rikiya Matsukura, Nobuko Nagase, Vili Lehdonvirta

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Unpaid domestic work is vital for human reproduction and enables all other forms of work. In this article, we present first estimates of the impacts of “smart” and “AI” technologies on unpaid work. We ask what the likelihood is of various types of unpaid work being automated, and how this would change the time spent on domestic work and on the gendered division of labour. We adapt three automation likelihood estimates for paid work occupations to estimate the automation likelihood of 19 domestic work tasks. Applying these estimates to Japanese and UK national time use data, we find that 50–60 % of the total time spent on unpaid work could be saved through automation. The savings are unevenly distributed: a Japanese woman aged 20–59 could save up to 3.5 h, a UK woman of the same age could save up to 3 h on an average weekday. A man in the UK could save 1.5 h and a Japanese man only 1 h on an average weekday. Domestic automation could free up to 9.3 % of women in Japan and 5.8 % of women in the UK to take up full- or part-time employment, pointing to substantial potential economic and social gains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122443
JournalTechnological Forecasting and Social Change
Volume191
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Automation
  • Gender equality
  • Labour supply
  • Time use
  • Unpaid work

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