Bad News for Nannies (Except Mine)
December 11, 2008
The New York times tells me that the financial crisis is having new effects: on nannies and housekeepers (chimney-sweeps included). Amongst New York professionals who are facing job losses and economic uncertainy, there is increasing pressure to cut back on domestic help. Thus the crisis seems to have spread quickly from the financial economy to the real economy and then down to the blackmarket economy, where most nannies, housekeepers and other domestic help is hired and paid.
I’ve written elsewhere on the political economy of nannies in London, before I had one myself. The wages of London nannies were reported (at that time) to be on average £33,000 a year, though having now entered the market, I can see that that average was massively thrown off by the full-time, live-in nannies of the uber-rich. I imagine that nannies working in those type of positions, who are primarily employed for people working in the finance industry, might be at risk of cut-backs or job loss. But amongst those of us that compromise the “normal nanny demand pool” the crisis has no effect on our provision of childcare. Childcare has an inelastic demand curve as there are no suitable alternative replacements and our demand doesn’t weeken even if our economic future becomes more uncertain, unless of course we cease to have a demand because we lose our jobs and have to stay at home.
If anything, the financial crisis has increased my demand for childcare, not decreased it. I find myself busier than ever, but maybe that’s because we work in a counter-cyclical industry, where student numbers and demand for consultancy tend to go up when crises hit. Fortunately, that means that I don’t have to face the kind of hard choices the people in the New York Times article are facing, and neither does our (absolutely fantastic) nanny.