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This chapter describes the issue of unemployment and ways of making a living. Rather than simply being characterized by unemployment, in less developed areas work is often characterized by its complexity and diversity. The level of complexity is arguably increasing as all around the world there has been an increase in the diversity of ways of making a living, with more part-time wage work, more self-employed, and informal activities, and more flexible work systems. Often, rather than people being unemployed, a major issue is that many work extremely hard but at levels of low productivity, receiving low financial recompense, and thus remaining in relative poverty. They require opportunities for better quality and better remunerated work. Understanding of policy issues is improved by applying the concepts of commodity and subsistence production, reproduction, and waged and unwaged work, as well as an appreciation of how ways of making a living combine these types of work.


William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, Tom Parr, and Andrew Walton

This chapter defends the radical view that the state should legally require all parents to take a substantial period of parental leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Though extreme, this strikes the right balance between advancing gender equality and respecting other considerations relating to the family. The chapter begins by identifying the various ways in which the current distribution of paid employment and household work is gendered, showing how women and men tend to play different roles in these domains. It then explains how different kinds of parental leave schemes can challenge the gendered division of labour, criticizing those that are likely to reproduce the current pattern of paid employment and household work. The chapter argues for schemes that encourage a more equal division of labour between women and men. It also discusses the implications of the chapter’s conclusions for the design of parental leave schemes and for the broader landscape in which these policies are nested.


Edited by John Ravenhill

Global Political Economy presents a diverse and comprehensive selection of theories and issues. Debates are presented through a critical lens to encourage readers to unpack claims, form independent views, and challenge assumptions. This text has been updated with contemporary real word examples, including the impact of the Trump administration, Brexit, and economic nationalism. Furthermore, new analysis has been added on the international political economy of work, labour, and energy.