Should You Be Paid for Housework?

1950's housewife running the vacuum cleaner If you were paid for doing housework, how much would you charge? Image: sturti/iStockphoto

As India mulls a draft bill that requires husbands to pay wives for homemaking, we wonder: What’s housework worth?

Do you think husbands should pay stay-at-home wives for housework?

It’s a burning question in India, where its Ministry of Women and Child Development is considering a draft bill that would require men to pay a percentage of their salaries to compensate wives for the work they do around the house.

The feminist in me says, “Yahooo!” It’s about time someone put a price on the housework I perform every day. Hey, the dishwasher doesn’t empty itself.

But second thoughts raised several questions.

  • How do you price each chore? Is mopping floors more valuable than doing laundry? Deep cleaning more than regular dusting?
  • If I hire a cleaning crew every two weeks, does that reduce my “salary,” even though I’m doing housework between visits?
  • What if I work outside the home and my husband does the housework? Do I pay him? What if we split chores? What if our son takes out the garbage (I should live so long)?
  • What’s the open market value of a three-course dinner made from scratch, versus a microwave lasagna and bag salad I serve in a pinch?

My parents would have cringed at the thought of paying Mom for her work around the house. My father made the living; my mother made the home. His salary was their money.

Until they split, and “their” money became a negotiated item in their divorce.

What do you think? Should women be paid for housework? What is your hard labor around the house worth?