“Just a Housewife” from the musical Working features housewife Kate Rushton, singing how society does not perceive her as intelligent due to her choice to be a stay-at-home mom. Her feeling of incompetence and being expendable increases when realizing that her work and skills are not viewed as valuable in society – specifically from an economic standpoint.
This song is great for introducing an introductory macroeconomic concept: Gross Domestic Product (GDP). When calculating GDP, one would not count Kate’s housework towards the final calculation since it is a non-market activity. However, while not quantifiable nor included in GDP, housewives such as Kate Rushton do contribute to the overall well-being and utility of the family unit – which is also highlighted in “Just a Housewife”.
“Just a Housewife” could also be used to start a discussion about the assumptions that go into calculating GDP, as housework (like cooking, cleaning, and even painting and fixing up the house) does not contribute to GDP. However, if a person pays somebody else to do these tasks – that would contribute to GDP.
Discussion Questions for “Just a Housewife”