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The net present value of a homemaker is actually a high positive, and it is high time we alter our wrong learnings and start respecting their contribution

25 October, 2023, 07:35 pm

Last modified: 25 October, 2023, 07:49 pm

The mental stress-handling capacity needed to function as a homemaker is difficult even when compared to an organisation setting. Photo: World Bank

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The mental stress-handling capacity needed to function as a homemaker is difficult even when compared to an organisation setting. Photo: World Bank

I often attend social gatherings with my wife where she is usually asked about her job. She replies to such questions with, “I used to be a university lecturer and an analyst, but now I prefer to take care of my children.” Many answer back, “Oh! Good, now you do not need to work and can stay at home!” 

I find this thinking grossly incorrect and I expect a better reply like, “Oh great! You are a homemaker – you must have an endless level of expertise and capability!” The homemaker’s job ought to be appreciated rather than undermined.

Let us check a bit of finance before moving to the main discussion. To calculate the present value, we divide the future value FV by a factor of (1 + i) for each period between present and future dates, thus the formula comes PV=FV/(1+i)n. To be simple, if the FV flow is negative, the PV also will result in a negative and vice versa of the whole summation. Now, let’s back to the main discussion of this article.

People believe a homemaker’s job is centred around activities like watching television serials, gossiping, shopping, etc. A significant portion of readers will definitely agree with this, but I find this to be incorrect. To understand, it is better to take a glance at a normal day of a homemaker and discuss it from a financial point of view.

If I choose a word to describe a homemaker’s daily routine, it would be ‘exhausting’. Their day begins quite early in the morning. On one side, they prepare breakfast for the family members, while simultaneously packing lunch pots or tiffin and helping the children get ready. Their jobs have eased up a bit these days, thanks to the ample supply of ready foods. 

After that, the focus shifts to the daily necessities of the household like dusting, cleaning, sweeping, mopping the floor, washing clothes, doing dishes, etc. Yes, the homemaker does not do it all and may have household helpers to assist, but it is not as easy as it looks to be. Sometimes having helpers or maids is more chaotic and it is easier to not have their assistance. 

At the end of the month, when we start paying our bills, a good portion of our income goes to the house helpers – and considering the organisational hierarchy taught in business, the superior authority must get a higher salary than the functional level. Again, if we consider the educational background and experiences, the salary could be tripled or quadrupled. 

The mental stress-handling capacity needed to function as a homemaker is difficult even when compared to an organisation setting. Many organisation leaders would love to get employees who can handle such pressure and work continuously and simultaneously, without the small breaks we tend to get in offices.

Often motherly duties, children’s studies, and providing care and attention are mostly single-handedly performed by mothers, as the fathers tend to be out for their duties. On all these issues, it becomes difficult for a housewife to manage her time between her children, husband and household chores, which can lead to losing personal identity and ambitions. 

So, when comparing leaving their career and handling other family matters, the former’s impact on the net present value would be negative, but the latter would be a high positive. And it would be in extreme figures if the family is joint, as that is more labour intensive.

In my observation, my wife, who is representing the homemaker in this article, has changed the outlook of her friends as well. This article also applies to my mother who had done this thankless job not only for her family, but also for our extended family her whole life. I have not seen her taking a day off from her regular days. 

Some may argue that this is something all mothers do, so what is wrong with it? But we ought to consider whether we should promote this patriarchal mindset among the newer generation. I do have daughters, do I or we, want the same for them?

At the time of marriage in a patriarchal setting, the husband may think their wife’s net present value is a high negative. But in reality, the net present value of a housewife is actually a high positive and may even be more than the husband. It is high time we alter our wrong learnings and start respecting the contribution of homemakers.


Sketch: TBS

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Sketch: TBS

Sketch: TBS





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