The crisis of care and the future of work in the Asia-Pacific region
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In our lifetimes we have seen old jobs disappear and new jobs come into being. We have seen dramatic changes due to computerisation and robotisation as well as the mechanisation of manufacturing, agriculture, mining and other industries. Some forms of work, however, are more resistant to change. The basic work involved in feeding and taking care of human bodies cannot easily be mechanised. It is possible to imagine various ways of ensuring that these basic physical needs are met - complete socialisation, complete marketisation or various combinations of paid, unpaid and volunteer labour. Even if we experiment with different forms of compensation for such work and different ways of allocating such work, though, it is ultimately human beings rather than machines that need to do the work of feeding, cleaning and caring. In this article I survey some of the ways in which societies have dealt with or are dealing with the need for housework, childcare and care work and consider what this means for the future of work in our region.