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The Employment of Domestic Workers by Black Urban Households

Year: 2002
Working paper number: 026
Author: Russell, Margo
Unit: SSU

Studies of domestic work have generally focused on the inter-racial relationship between white employers ('madams') and black workers ('servants'). At least one-third of the households employing domestic workers are not white, and most of these employers are black or African. This paper reports the findings from an exploratory research project, conducted by students using a very small sample, on domestic work in black residential areas in Cape Town. The probability of a household employing a domestic worker rises if the household is smaller, headed by a man, has members in more skilled occupations, and has no one at home during the day; the probability falls in extended families, multiple-earner households and severely overcrowded houses. The number of children makes little difference. Wages paid are substantially below the minimum wages legislated in 2003.

Publication file: wp26.pdf