“with a Little Help from Outside” – “Outsourcing” of Domestic Work in Germany

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 11:00 AM
Room: Booth 69
Oral Presentation
Natascha NISIC , School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences, Universitaet Hamburg, 2035, Germany
“With a little help from outside” – “Outsourcing” of domestic work in Germany

Natascha Nisic

Unpaid household labor and the provision of care within families present an important determinant for individual and collective welfare. However, in the past decades time and employment structures of households have undergone significant change. In particular, the increase of dual-earner couples and demographic shifts challenge traditional arrangements of paid and unpaid labor within the household. Households are thus increasingly confronted with the decision whether to produce these commodities by themselves or to buy services on the market.  While common explanations emphasize the relevance of time and labor costs for such make-or-buy decisions, empirical results call for further explanations. From a sociological point of view the relationship between supplier and the household contains many issues which generate trust problems. Moreover, the outsourcing of household labor is embedded in a normative framework about family and gender, affecting the choice of what and how to outsource specific tasks. Although time pressures of households are increasingly relevant, the topic has so far been understudied. Especially in Germany there is little empirical evidence about the outsourcing behavior of households. The paper thus analyzes the determinants of outsourcing decisions of households in Germany. The analysis is based on the waves 1992-2013 of the German Socio-economic Panel (SOEP) applying panel data methods. Theoretically the analysis draws upon new home economics, family sociology and economic sociology. The article gives insight into the decision-making processes of households. It also sheds light on the changing boundary between household and markets and gives explanations for current empirical developments in this realm.