Defining the boundaries between unpaid labor and unpaid caregiving: Review of the social and health sciences literature

Greta Friedemann-Sánchez, Joan M. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Informal unpaid caregiving is a critical factor when forming and implementing development policy in and on behalf of developing nations because of how it can affect all aspects of economic and human development for all society, not only women and families. Yet by being treated as an undifferentiated concept from unpaid labor, caregiving remains at the margins in development research and policy. Drawing from different social science and health theories, we present the theoretical roots of caregiving research. We propose that although unpaid caregiving scholarship is embedded in the scholarship of unpaid labor, unpaid caregiving must be defined as a distinct form of unpaid labor. We present the similarities and differences between the two concepts and outline and discuss avenues for extending the frameworks that have been used in the social and health sciences to explore unpaid labor to study specific aspects of caregiving.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-534
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Human Development and Capabilities
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011



  • Care
  • Caregiving
  • Gender
  • Unpaid labor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development

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