Article: How much is a housewife worth?

 

How much is a housewife worth?

Laura Barton
Thursday March 8, 2007
The Guardian

It was in her 1964 book Sixpence in Her Shoe that Phyllis McGinley observed that to be a housewife is "sometimes an ungrateful job if it is looked on only as a job. Regarded as a profession, it is the noblest as it is the most ancient of the catalogue. Let none persuade us differently or the world is lost indeed."

John Charman might bear this in mind if he is to reach even a vague understanding of what it is to be a housewife. A self-made insurance tycoon worth £131m, Charman and his wife Beverley began divorce proceedings in 2004, after 27 years of marriage. Last year, the high court decided that Mrs Charman was worth £48m (37% of the couple’s assets). Mr Charman this week appealed that she is deserving of only £20m, with his legal representatives pointedly referring to her as a "housewife". The decision, he argued, "failed to have proper regard for the contribution I made by being the only one to create the wealth".

Really? More than a decade ago, a report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that to employ all the cooks, cleaners, chauffeurs and nannies needed to meet a housewife’s annual contribution to the home would cost $120,900 (£62,590). A fair settlement would also take into account a woman’s loss of earnings from the career she abandoned – Mrs Charman, for example, was a civil servant. It is also arguable that Mrs Charman’s financial worth is greater still, as without her contribution to the household, her husband could not have pursued his immense fortune.

"This is a very unusual case," says Katherine Rake of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, "so we wouldn’t comment specifically on it, but we would say that divorce has a negative impact on women’s economic circumstances that lasts much longer than it does for men."

Ok, only one sentence is this whole article bugs me: "It is also arguable that Mrs Charman’s financial worth is greater still, as without her contribution to the household, her husband could not have pursued his immense fortune. "  It doesn’t say whether they had children or not, but what could she possibly have done at home that allowed her husband to pursue his immense fortune?  If they had children, he could have hired a nanny, a babysitter, etc.  What did she do that otherwise would have kept him home?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Article: How much is a housewife worth?

  1. Janet

    Well lets see – she probably
     
    1. made his doctors, etc appts
    2. made sure he had the proper clothes
    3. made sure personal taxes were filed
    4. That he went to the right city at the right time
     
    Sure you can hire all that – but thats probably another 120K USD a yr

  2. Britt

    I have to disagree about the value of a housewife. Yes she cooks, cleans, shops, and looks after her family. So do I. However, I manage to do all that and still run my own successful company working 40+ hours/week. Do the people who write these articles really think that folks without a little woman at home never eat at home, live in filthy houses, and never do laundry? It’s called being an adult. I have yet to meet a stay at home home who does more than a working mom.

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