Relative Pay of Domestic Eldercare Workers in Shanghai, China

Xiao-yuan Dong, Jin Feng & Yangyang Yu

Domestic services represent a growing sector of the economy in many high- and upper-middle income countries. Demand for domestic workers for eldercare is especially high as a result of the rapid aging of the population in these countries. However, domestic eldercare employment is characterized as a low-pay, low-status occupation worldwide. This article examines the relative pay of domestic eldercare workers in urban China and its underlying determinants. The estimates show that when holding observable individual characteristics constant, domestic eldercare workers earn 28 percent less than other types of workers in the service sector in Shanghai. The analysis attributes the low wages of eldercare workers to the fact that domestic paid work is culturally devalued, eldercare is performed by workers from the most marginalized segments of Shanghai's labor force, and the users of eldercare are relatively poor among the users of domestic services.

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