Khazanah Research: Care sector needs recognition as an industry in its own right

Choong said care work is becoming an urgent issue as the country's life expectancy is increasing while fertility rate is declining below the rate of replacement. (Photo by: Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Yusuf/The Edge)

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KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 3): Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) said today higher Malaysian government investment in the care sector may generate as much as 0.4% of the nation's annual real gross domestic product growth due to the creation of more jobs in an industry, which could foster greater female labour force participation.

KRI deputy director of research Christopher Choong Weng Wai said that according to KRI's simulations, higher government investment in the care sector could lead to female labour force participation increasing to 63% within five years from now.

Choong, who was speaking at a press conference here today, said that in addition, some 16,000 jobs can be created within the childcare industry as a result of higher investment in the care sector.

As such, the government needs to see the care sector as an industry in its own right, he said.

Talent Corp Malaysia Bhd's website, citing data from the Statistics Department, indicates that the country's female labour force participation rate in 2018 stood at 55.2% comprising six million out of 10.8 million working age females during the year.

At the KRI press conference today, Choong said care work is becoming an urgent issue as the country's life expectancy is increasing while fertility rate is declining below the rate of replacement.

"The sheer scale of unpaid care also worsens gender inequalities both in the workplace and the household, since women bear most of the burden of care.

"Moreover, current measures of poverty and inequality do not factor in unpaid care, so we do not have a true picture of household living standards.

"I think, from my own point of view, is that I felt that the whole conversation about gender inequalities will point to the issue of care as one of the reasons why we cannot advance or reduce one of these gaps in the labour market. So we really wanted to find some method which allows us to analyse in a more systematic way what is happening [in the care sector]," Choong said.