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Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work: Key findings in Asia and the Pacific

Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work: Key findings in Asia and the Pacific

The Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work: Key Findings and Messages Asia and the Pacific report, from the International Labour Organization, takes a comprehensive look at unpaid and paid care work in Asia and the Pacific and its relationship with the changing world of work. A key focus is the persistent gender inequalities in households and the labour market, which are inextricably linked with care work.

The report finds that unpaid care work is the main barrier preventing women from getting into, remaining and progressing in the labour force. The report highlights inadequate policy responses to the rising demand for care and quantifies the extent of the care burden on women and calls for urgent action to prevent looming global care crisis.


  • Across Asia and the Pacific, women perform 80 per cent of the total of hours of unpaid care work, namely on average 4.1 times more time than men. The time spent by women in unpaid care work increases with the presence of young children.
  • In Asia and the Pacific, men perform the lowest share of unpaid care work of all regions (1 hour and 4 minutes), with 28 minutes in Pakistan (or 8.0 per cent of men’s total working time) and only 31 minutes in India (7.9 per cent). The regional average for women is 4 hours and 22 minutes.
  • Asia and the Pacific is predicted to experience the world’s highest increase in older person dependency ratios, from 3.7 per cent in 2015 to 4.9 per cent in 2030 (i.e. for every 100 potential unpaid carers there will be almost 5 people aged at or above their healthy life expectancy at 60 years to be cared for).
  • When both work for pay or profit and unpaid care work are accounted together, the working day is on average longer for women (7 hours and 43 minutes) than it is for men (6 hours and 57 minutes). This makes women consistently time poorer than men.
  • Unpaid care work constitutes the main barrier to women’s participation in labour markets, while a more equal sharing of unpaid care work between men and women is associated with higher levels of women’s labour force participation.
  • In 2018, 49.5 per cent of women in the working age declared that are either unavailable for employment or not seeking a job due to unpaid care work. This rate is the second highest fter the Arab States. Men in the same conditions are only 7.1 per cent.
  • Unpaid care work is one of the main obstacles to women moving into better quality jobs. It affects the number of hours spent by women in work for pay or profit, impacting their earnings.
  • In Asia and the Pacific, employed mothers of young children work shorter hours for pay or profit than adult men and non-mothers of children aged 0–5 years. In particular, women with 3 or more children under 6 years, work 6 hours less than women without children under 6 years, 7 hours and 42 minutes less than men without children below 6 and 6 hours and 30 minutes less than men in the same situation (with 3 or more children below 6).


  • Demand for care work is constant with a shift from childcare to older persons care
  • Reasons for increasing demand for care workers
  • Unpaid care work is vital to human well-being and economies but remains invisible and unrecognised
  • Women perform the large majority of unpaid care work
  • Engagement in unpaid care work adversely affects women’s employment prospects
  • Unpaid care work is hampering women’s job quality
  • Care work is a significant source of employment globally, particularly for women
  • Poor job quality for care workers leads to poor quality care work
  • Investment in care polices and care jobs makes sense but still few transformative policies exist
  • A high road scenario requires increasing investment in education, health and social work by 2030
  • A high road to care work: The key recommendations of the 5R Framework for Decent Care Work
  • Annexes
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