Follow us on:

Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work

Care work and care jobs for the future of decent work

The Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work report, from the International Labour Organization, takes a comprehensive look at unpaid and paid care work 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 analyses the ways in which unpaid care work is recognised and organised, the extent and quality of care jobs and their impact on the well-being of individuals and society. These gender inequalities must be overcome to make care work decent and to ensure a future of decent work for both women and men.

The report contains a wealth of original data drawn from over 90 countries and details transformative policy measures in five main areas: care, macroeconomics, labour, social protection and migration. It also presents projections on the potential for decent care job creation offered by remedying current care work deficits and meeting the related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.


  • The majority of the care work worldwide is undertaken by unpaid carers, mostly women and girls from socially disadvantaged groups. Unpaid care work is a key factor in determining both whether women enter into and stay in employment and the quality of jobs they perform. While care work can be rewarding, when in excess and when involving a high degree of drudgery, it hampers the economic opportunities and wellbeing of unpaid carers, and diminishes their overall enjoyment of human rights.
  • Most care workers are women, frequently migrants and working in the informal economy under poor conditions and for low pay. Paid care work will remain an important future source of employment, especially for women. The relational nature of care work limits the potential substitution of robots and other technologies for human labour.
  • Changes to family structures, higher care dependency ratios and changing care needs, combined with an increase in the level of women’s employment in certain countries, have eroded the availability of unpaid care work and resulted in an increase in the demand for paid care work. In 2015, there were 2.1 billion people in need of care (1.9 billion children under the age of 15, of whom 0.8 billion were under six years of age, and 0.2 billion older persons aged at or above their healthy life expectancy).
  • By 2030, the number of care recipients is predicted to reach 2.3 billion, driven by an additional 0.1 billion older persons and an additional 0.1 billion children aged 6 to 14 years.
  • Unpaid care work makes a substantial contribution to countries’ economies, as well as to individual and societal well-being. Unpaid carers meet the vast majority of care needs across the world. However, their unpaid care work remains mostly invisible, unrecognised and unaccounted for in decision-making. Estimates based on time-use survey data in 64 countries (representing 66.9 per cent of the world’s working-age population) show that 16.4 billion hours are spent in unpaid care work every day. This is equivalent to 2.0 billion people working 8 hours per day with no remuneration.


  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of abbreviations
  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1. Care work and care jobs: What they are and why they matter
  • Chapter 2.  Unpaid care work and gender inequalities at work
  • Chapter 3. Care policies and unpaid care work
  • Chapter 4 Care workers and care employment
  • Chapter 6. A high road to care for the future of decent work
  • Appendix
  • Bibliography
to top
Investing in Women