Care Economies in Context

Research Findings

Care Economies in Context: Research Findings by the Colombia Team

Our project developed various academic reports from a multidisciplinary perspective in order to contribute to the public debate for the design of policies that prioritize investment in care services and promote gender equity in Colombia. Within the framework of this project, seven qualitative reports were developed with the aim of identifying the meaning that people give to care work, identifying feelings, desires and beliefs around this activity and understanding the implications that carrying out care activities has for the personal and professional life of caregivers.

The reports published by Quanta, Cuidado y Género and Secretaría Distrital de la Mujer (2021a, b) analyzed quantitative data on time use from the National Survey on Time Use (ENUT, by its acronym in Spanish, 2016 -2017) on men and women residing in Bogotá and qualitative data on care and domestic activities from a series of focus groups carried out by the Secretaría Distrital de la Mujer of the Alcaldía Mayor de Bogotá. The main finding of the first report was that the belief that women are more protective, loving or empathic results in the inequitable and disproportionate distribution of the burden of unpaid care against them, regardless of the characteristics of the household (socioeconomic status, the presence of dependents in home, etc.). The second report showed that excessive unpaid carework has a profound impact on the well-being of caregivers. The women participating in the focus groups expressed: i) having constant episodes of sadness and depression; ii) not having time to develop activities other than those related to domestic work and caring for other people, which has negative consequences on the realization of their life projects and the achievement of their personal goals; iii) constantly dealing with uncertainty about the well-being of the people they care for and their worry of what will happen to them when the caretakers is no longer alive; and iv) some of them considered care as an obligation and not as an option.

The reports published by Ramírez-Bustamante and Camelo-Urrego (2022a, b, c, d) and Ramírez-Bustamante, Camelo-Urrego and Gómez-Méndez (2022) sought to understand the effect that care responsibilities have on women’s decisions about whether or not to participate and how to do so in the labour market. These reports are the result of 100 interviews with 4 population groups. The first of these reports explores the experience of women caregivers of children under 12 years of age, the second report talks about caregivers of people over 65 years of age, the third about caregivers of people with disabilities, the fourth about non-caregiver women. Finally, in the fifth report, we compared the perceptions of well-being reported by the women of the four groups of interviewees.

The main findings of these five reports were: i) in most cases, care responsibilities were not the result of a “free decision” by women; ii) the routines of the caregivers were quite strenuous; iii) as a result of their exclusion from the labour market, most women did not have access to economic resources upon reaching retirement age and, consequently, faced a greater probability of being poor; iv) the majority of female caregivers of children under 12 years of age reported feeling more satisfied with life than the majority of female caregivers of the elderly and people with disabilities; v) several of the women caregivers postponed their life projects due to having to assume care burdens. On the other hand, the women who are not caregivers postponed care, particularly maternity, to carry out their life projects; vi) most women who were not caregivers had greater economic stability and independence than several of the women caregivers, greater autonomy and freedom of time, and the ability to consolidate a life project that favored paid work and the achievement of their dreams and personal and professionals goals. Finally, vii) it was common for all women, regardless of whether they were caregivers or not, to face discrimination in the labour market due to stereotypes associated with maternity and care.

The care economy has been gaining ground on the public agenda in Latin America and Colombia as a proposal to reduce gender gaps, promote sustainable development and address demographic changes. Although incorporating a gender perspective into public policies is a step forward in reducing gender inequality, there is still no consensus on how economic policy can contribute to ensuring that development strategies produce results in favor of gender equity and equality. In Colombia, there are various public care policies, but information on the supply of care services is scarce, and there is no centralized source of information to access this data.

An alternative way to measure the effects of different care policies on women, households, the market, and various macroeconomic variables in the country is through a dynamic Computable General Equilibrium (CGE) model with a gender perspective designed for policy analysis at the national level with a special emphasis on issues related to the care economy. We developed various innovative reports using this model to simulate different public policy scenarios.

In Report No. 5 (Cicowiez, Tribin, Pirela-Rios, & Gomez-Barrera, 2022), the effects of increasing the public and free provision of childcare services are presented. The main findings are: i) private consumption and investment increase at the macroeconomic level compared to the base scenario; ii) both men and women increase the hours they dedicate to working in GDP activities while reducing the hours they dedicate to unpaid care work; iii) there is an increase in hours worked and income earned outside the home, especially for women.

Report No. 1 (Cicowiez, Tribin, Pirela-Rios, & Gomez-Barrera, 2022) examines the effects of two public policy scenarios: i) an increase in transfers from the government to households headed by working-age adults with children under six years of age and ii) a subsidy for women’s employment. The study shows that the monetary transfer generally reduces the time spent on work outside the home while increasing the time spent on unpaid care work for both men and women. The scenario of a subsidy for female employment shows that women reduce the hours they spend on unpaid work and leisure while increasing the hours they spend on paid work.


Herrera-ldárraga, P. & Hernández, H. M. (2022). Infraestructura social de cuidado en las ciudades de Colombia [Social infrastructure of care in Colombian cities]. Informe Quanta – Cuidado y Género. Recuperado de infraestructura cuidado ciudades

Quanta, cuidado y género y Secretaría Distrital de la Mujer. (2021a). Los hombres y el cuidado en Bogotá: Una aproximación cualitativa y cuantitativa. [Men and care in Bogota: A qualitative and quantitative approach]  Recuperado de: cuidado-bogota

Quanta, cuidado y género y Secretaría Distrital de la Mujer. (2021b). Caracterización cuantitativa y cualitativa de las cuidadoras en Bogotá [Quantitative and qualitative characterization of caregivers in Bogota]. Recuperado de: caracterizacion-cuidadoras-bogota

Ramírez-Bustamante, N. and Garzón-Landinez, T. (2021). “Sobre los hombros de las mujeres. Análisis Jurídico de la provisión del cuidado en Colombia y sus implicaciones” [“On women’s shoulders Legal analysis of the provision of care in Colombia and its implications”]. Proyecto Quanta-Cuidado y Género. Retrieved February 13, 2023 from: provicion-cuidado

Ramírez-Bustamante, N. y Camelo-Urrego, p. (2022a). “Dejé de cuidarme yo por cuidarla a ella”. Bienestar de mujeres cuidadoras y no cuidadoras en Bogotá. [“I stop taking care of myself, to take care of her”. The wellbeing of caregivers and no caregiver in Bogota] Quanta Cuidado y Género. Recuperado de:

Ramírez-Bustamante, N. y Camelo-Urrego, P. (2022b). “Yo ahorita pienso más en mis hijos que en mí”. Experiencias de mujeres cuidadoras de niños menores de 12 años en Bogotá [“Now, I think more in my children tan in myself” Experiences of women who care for children under 12 years old in Bogotá]. Quanta Cuidado y Género. Recuperado de:

Ramírez-Bustamante, N. y Camelo-Urrego, P. (2022c). “Mi vida gira en torno al cuidado de mi madre”. Experiencias de mujeres cuidadoras de personas mayores de 65 años en Bogotá [“My life revolves around taking care of my mother.” Experiences of women caregivers of people over 65 years old in Bogota]. Quanta Cuidado y Género. Recuperado de:

Ramírez-Bustamante, N. y Camelo-Urrego, P. (2022d). “Ella es totalmente dependiente de mí”. Experiencias de mujeres cuidadoras de personas con discapacidad en Bogotá. [“She is totally dependent on me.” Experiences of women caregivers of people with disabilities in Bogota] Quanta Cuidado y Género. Recuperado de:

Ramírez-Bustamante, N., Camelo-Urrego, P. y Gómez-Méndez, C. (2022e). “Tengo el tiempo para hacer lo que yo quiera”. experiencias de mujeres no cuidadoras en Bogotá. [ “I have time to do what I want”. The experiences of women who are not caregiver in Bogota] Quanta Cuidado y Género. Recuperado de:

Cicowiez, M., Tribín, A., Pirela-Rios, A., & Gómez-Barrera, A. (2022). EFECTOS DE LAS TRANSFERENCIAS EN ESPECIE DE CUIDADO: LA PROVISIÓN PÚBLICA Y GRATUITA DE SERVICIOS DE CUIDADO DE NIÑOS. [The effect of the transferences in kind of care: The free public provision of childcare services] Quanta.

Cicowiez, M., Tribín, A., Pirela-Rios, A., & Gómez-Barrera, A. (2022). TRANSFERENCIAS MONETARIAS A LOS HOGARES CON NIÑOS Y SUBSIDIOS AL EMPLEO FEMENINO. [Cash transfer to households with children and subsidies to female employment]  Quanta.

Tribín, A., Gómez-Barrera, A., Pirela-Rios, A.(2022). Distribución del cuidado, roles de género y poder de negociación en Colombia: Un análisis a partir de la ENUT 2020-2021.[ Distribution of care, gender roles and bargain power in Colombia: An analysis based on the ENUT 2020-2021]  Informe Quanta – Cuidado y Género. Recuperado de

Quanta. (2022). POLÍTICAS PÚBLICAS CON PERSPECTIVA DE GÉNERO ENFOCADAS EN EL CUIDADO Y EL TRABAJO REMUNERADO: ¿QUÉ PUEDE SERVIR? [Public policies with gender perspective focus on care and paid work: What can be useful?]

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