“Carolyn Vigil has spent most of her career in Big Tech. She is also the primary caregiver for her 23-year-old autistic son, Jax. Managing these two roles has never been easy, and at various times over the years, Vigil has had to step back from her job for the sake of her kid.”

“The appeal of remote work is all too often glossed over as a matter of “quality of life” or “work-life balance.” Those are, of course, important. But that framing also ignores the uncompensated caregiving that Vigil and millions of others provide for America’s young, sick, elderly, and disabled. Their efforts are not just a quality-of-life issue; they’re an enormously important and overlooked part of our economy. For a lot of caregivers, telecommuting allows them to manage a workload that is, if anything, way too big. Remote work, then, isn’t just a question of work-life balance; it’s a question of work-work balance. The traditional conception of “productivity” doesn’t account for this.”

“We’re not good at telling the comprehensive story of the economy, because we completely ignore all the economic activity that is done within homes,” Heggeness said.

How we measure—or mismeasure—the economy inevitably influences policy making. “What we measure reflects what we value, and shapes what we do,” Smith and her co-author, Nancy Folbre, wrote in a 2020 paper on the subject. The omission of so much domestic work from economic indicators makes policies that support caregiving look like bad investments.”

“A subtler point is that when it comes to caregiving, just being nearby is valuable, not because someone needs you at every second but because at any second they might. This is an aspect of caregiving that is all too easy to overlook until something goes wrong.”

Read more in The Atlantic.

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