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In this sense it is not different from paid work, which, though sometimes pleasurable, is economically regarded as primarily to produce a good or service. At different wage rates reflecting the degree of involvement, Folbre costs all parental time, even that spent sleeping or not in the child’s company. Adding her result to the estimate of the cost of children reached by the US Department of Agriculture yields a figure four times higher than when financial outlay alone is counted (Folbre, 2004). This is a further indication of the enormous value in the non-market sector of the economy, which Ironmonger has estimated to be equivalent to 60% of GDP (Ironmonger, 1996).

In onechild families, there is a significant increase in productive activity when the child matures from infancy (0−2 years) to toddler-hood (3−4 years). When an only child enters school, total household productive activity declines to a level only one hour and 12 minutes more than a childless household. In contrast, two- and three-plus 36 Contemporary Motherhood child families do about an hour less total productive activity when the youngest child grows from 0–2 to 3−4, and then level out at about two daily hours more than a child-free household.

This is nurturing care that fosters security and emotional wellbeing in children (Leach, 1977). c. Travel and communication (ABS activity codes 57 and 58): Travel can be associated with transportation to school, visits, sports training, music and ballet lessons, parents and teacher nights. Travel time includes time spent waiting, and meeting trains or buses. Communication (in person, by telephone or written) includes discussions with a spouse, other family members, friends, teachers and child workers when the conversation is about the child.

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