4.3 Considerations for further investigation on the topic 60
5. Conclusion 61
6. Bibliography 63
7. Appendix 68
Annex 1: Interview with Carlos March 68
Annex 2 : Interview with Agustina 70
Annex 3 : Interview with Ana 75
Annex 4 : Interview with Candelaria 78
Annex 5 : Interview with Consuelo 82
Annex 6 : Interview with Eugenia 85
Annex 7 : Interview with Julieta 89
Annex 8 : Interview with Liliana 96
Annex 9 : Interview with Lucila 102
Annex 10 : Interview with Lucrecia 107
Annex 11 : Interview with Paula 110
Annex 12 : Interview with Regina 114
Annex 13 : Interview Silvia 127
Annex 14 : Interview with Jaime 131
Annex 15 : Interview Maximo 138
“I was this tall, and I was already hearing that the country was in crisis/Now, I am about this tall and I still hear this country in in crisis/This crisis will have growth hormones to arrive up to where?” (own translation).
On the comic strip above, Mafalda, a character created by the Argentinian cartoonist Quino (Joaquín Salvaor Lavado Tejón) in 1963, reflects upon the economic crisis in Argentina. On the occasion of the 50th birthday of Mafalda in 2014, Quino commented with grief the fact that the themes of the comic strips, which are mainly the economic and political concerns of the 6 year old middle class Argentine girl, remain still very relevant (Albisu 2014). Economic crisis, inflation and suspended hopes towards the future persist as present topics in Argentina and permeate many aspects of everyday life in the country.
Economic crises can unfold in many different ways and have a wide set of social consequences. Although the impact of the current economic crisis at some extent is felt by everyone in Argentina, the middle class is considered to have to deal with a greater burden coming from the present crisis, and such perception is widely present in the ideas and discourses concerning this situation. Lower-income households have access to different governmental cash benefit programs and still benefit from governmental subsidies on electricity and gas, while upper classes tend to have extra resources to which they can make use of in times of economic crises. Based on this situation, the increase on the prices is felt differently by the middle class, which is said to be the class that mostly has to cope with changes in the living standards and consuming habits (March 2014).
One of the consequences of the present crisis, which is felt more intensely at the household level, is the increasing inflation. Government official data for the months of January and February of 2014 showed inflation rates of 3,7% and 3,4%, respectively (INDEC 2014). However, governmental data has been widely questioned by various institutions in the country (Avila et al. 2011), and an average calculated from privately conducted measurements is announced by the opposition of the current government in Congress, displaying higher rates. According to these, the inflation rates for the months of January and February of 2014 were 4,6% and 4,3%, correspondingly, which results in an annual inflation rate of 34,88% (Unión por Todos 2014). These are high figures, and considering salaries have not been raised proportionally, the maintenance of a family’s needs becomes more complicated. Since the household is not a uniform unit, it is plausible that the perception of the impact of inflation may vary between the different members of the family and according to their domestic responsibilities.
Although men have increased their share of housework and care work worldwide, women still spend much more time into such activities in all countries today (OECD 2014). The last statistical report of United Nations Women has a sharp conclusion on this matter: “family life rests solidly on the shoulders of women in all areas of the world” (UNSTATS 2010, p. 16), while also remarking that men are (slowly) augmenting their share of the reproductive work.
Likewise, in Argentina today women are still more responsible for the housework than men, which may result in women working more hours in total, when combining paid and unpaid work (ECLAC 2010). Novacovsky (2010) explains that the attachment of women to the domestic chores exists, at different levels, in all socioeconomic classes of Argentina, and the only variable is the possibility to afford a housemaid, who is also always a woman.
The unequal share of the housework has various implications for the professional and personal lives of women, since it means that they will have less available time to dedicate to activities other than housework. When prices are rising constantly, the management of a home becomes more difficult and complex. Accordingly, the unequal share of responsibilities regarding the housework can result into different impacts of the economic crisis on the members of a household. Therefore, this project aims at investigating such effects, more specifically how inflation is impacting the domestic burden of middle class women of Buenos Aires, Argentina.