Landmark Ruling in China Puts Price on Wife's Housework

And it's not worth much
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2021 8:20 AM CST
Chinese Court: A Woman's Housework Worth $32 a Week
How much is washing this dish worth?   (Getty Images)

The outcome of a divorce case in China has sparked a conversation about the value of women's household labor. CNBC reports a Beijing divorce court has ruled that a wife should be compensated for her 5 years of housework, to the tune of 50,000 yuan. In dollars, that works out to $7,700, or about $32 a week. Unsurprisingly, the ruling has led online commenters (and plenty of them, with a hashtag on the subject generating 570 million views on Weibo) to deem the compensation inadequate. The BBC has more on the couple via court records, reporting they married in 2015 and that the husband, surname Chen, filed for divorce in 2020.

CNN reports the wife, surname Wang, requested compensation of $24,700, claiming Chen "barely cared about or participated in any kind of domestic chores" and that she shouldered the responsibility providing childcare for their son. She'll receive an additional $3,600 a year in alimony. The presiding judge on Monday explained that while it's more customary to think of dividing tangible property in a divorce, "housework constitutes intangible property value." But the ruling was only possible thanks for a new civil code introduced in January that allows a divorcing party to seek compensation related to a lopsided burden when it comes caregiving for children and elderly relatives. (More divorce stories.)

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