Economic Mechanisms Explaining Low Wages in the Personal Services Sector

An Analysis Focusing on Home Help Workers

The purpose of this article is to show how low wages in home help services, a sector where jobs are considered “low-skilled”, result from an array of mechanisms that themselves are the fruit of a socio-political and socio-economic construction.

These mechanisms flow from both public and private strategies, which we seek to clarify by synthesising empirical work in the field of personal services. Three mechanisms involved in the non-recognition of these professions are identified (denying or reducing the “qualities” used; developing an abundant labour supply; and dividing the workforce), with each of these being applied in both national policy guidelines and employer human resources strategies. The home help sector appears to be illustrative of trends at work in many other highly feminised service activities (cleaning, hotel and catering, and retail).

Traduction : Patrick Hamm
Keywords: personal services, skills and qualifications, home helps, services, women, low wages
JEL: J24, J31, L84, M51