Bolder Advocacy

Showing the Economic Value of Care: Spotlight on the Center for Partnership Studies’ Caring Economy Campaign

By Rebecca Benoff
Outreach Intern, Alliance for Justice

CECWhat brings individuals the most happiness and fulfillment in their lives? Answers likely vary but frequently include social wealth, like relationships with family, friends, and community, and natural wealth, including clean air and water, time in nature, etc. Why, then, are these ideas of personal wealth not prioritized in our understanding of a prosperous economy? The Center for Partnership Studies (CPS) is trying to change that.

The Center for Partnership Studies, founded by Riane Eisler, is an organization that works to improve human development, social well-being, and create a long-term, successful economy. CPS is working to change our understanding of a prosperous economy through their Caring Economy Campaign. The campaign connects the dots between the work of care performed in households and communities and our collective prosperity – showing how investments in care and caregivers and new measures of economic health are the keys to a sustainable and equitable economic future.

In a recent free Caring Economy Starter Course webinar, Sara Saltee, the Director of the Caring Economy Leadership Program, introduced the 3 key action areas of CPS’s campaign to positively impact the lives of women and families, and create greater prosperity for everyone.

Policies that Offer Meaningful Supports to the Women and Men who Do the Work of Care

Policies supporting families and working mothers are outdated and limited in the United States. There are only three countries worldwide that do not guarantee mothers paid maternity leave: Papa New Guinea, Swaziland, and the United States. Additionally, two out of every three families depend on working moms’ wages to support them. These moms are bread winners and caregivers for their families yet still may be forced to send their sick children to school because they cannot afford to take a day off of work. The campaign explains how paid maternity and sick leave policies create tremendous economic returns for the businesses and nations that implement them.

Investments in Quality Early Childhood Experiences at Home and In School

The Caring Economy Campaign explains the economic necessity for greater investments in education. “The annual cost of childcare for an infant in a child care center is higher than a year’s tuition at the average four-year public college in most US states,” explained Saltee.  Programs supporting early childhood development through good preschools, strong education programs and a trusting relationship with a caregiver are vital to children becoming successful and well-adjusted adults.  Such adults not only cost society less, they are also the “high quality human capital” required more than ever in our current global information service economy.

New Measures of Economic Health

In order to see the impact of policy changes and investments in our society, we must also change the metrics by which we measure economic success. The Caring Economy Campaign will be launching a new website this fall to put forward a whole set of Social Wealth Economic Indicators (SWEIs) which allow us to focus on growing our real wealth.  Saltee described two types of metrics that are proposed by the campaign:  “Human Capacity Metrics, which measure what makes it possible for every person to develop their capabilities, and Care Investment Metrics, which show the financial return from investing in our human infrastructure.”  These new metrics might include maternal mortality rates, affordable prenatal care, and investment in quality healthcare and paid parental leave. It is time to stop measuring wealth solely in terms of exchanges of goods and services in the marketplace (GDP) and incorporate measures which align with the caring activities that are the foundation of prosperity for everyone.

How to take action