Title

Household Labor: An Essential but Overlooked Livelihood in Sri Lanka

Publication Date

1-1-2006

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Janaki Natarajan

Abstract

Many livelihoods thrive and support a culturally‐appropriate lifestyle without the use of money. Moreover, many livelihoods exist outside of the formal market and in some situations contribute more than half a nation’s GDP. For this reason, I examined the unpaid, informal market livelihood of household labor, using the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach, a framework that utilizes a multi‐dimensional interpretation of poverty rather than an oversimplified income/expenditure definition. Wages are only useful in settings where all goods and services are purchased. Considering human, physical, natural and social capitals, in addition to financial capital, offers a more culturally‐relevant and accurate appreciation of a livelihood. Almost all of the women in Kottegoda, a small fishing community on the southern tip of Sri Lanka, work full‐time in household labor. The tasks of cooking, cleaning and caring directly benefit the livelihoods and well‐being of all household members. This reproductive work, as opposed to economically productive or profitable work, sustains communities and is irreducible in regard to a human’s basic needs. The intent of this capstone is to provide useable information for policy‐makers and development practitioners so they can make informed macro‐level policies or grassroots initiatives that benefit this essential livelihood in the community.

Disciplines

Labor Economics

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