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Northwestern University School of Law




Women's unpaid domestic labor produces tremendous economic value. In the United States, women spend more of their productive work hours in unpaid labor than in paid labor, and the credible estimates of the economic value of unpaid labor range from the equivalent of 24% to 60% of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product ("GDP"). Given its economic value and its significant role in the working lives of women, it is surprising that the topic of home labor has received no systematic examination by legal scholars. This Article undertakes such an examination. It concludes that a wide range of legal doctrines treat women's home work as if it were not value-producing labor. Instead, the U.S. legal system conceptualizes housework as solely an expression of affection, the currency of familial emotions.



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