The statistical quantification of the unpaid work of social reproduction requires a conceptualisation of the economic system capable of containing it, taking account of its dimensions and its quality. Unpaid work involves the upkeep of living spaces and domestic goods, care of the health, education and psychological needs of family members, and the maintenance of social relationships. According to statistical classifications, it is divided into domestic labour (transformation of goods and care of living spaces), care of persons, and work required to link the domestic and public spheres arising from family responsibilities (e.g. taking children to school, paying bills). Data show, at international level, that these three components may change in weight, but the total does not alter. For example, in some types of family less time is spent preparing meals and more time is spent on childcare and servicing (e.g. taking them to the swimming pool, to school). 1 Quantitatively, unpaid work, measured in units of time, in Italy and in other countries, slightly exceeds the total amount of paid work done by men and women, while, qualitatively, it is essential for the maintenance of the system as a whole. Thus, this work constitutes one of the major aggregates of the economic system. In its specific activities and their relative weights it reflects historical and cultural changes; its basic functions, along with public services and the provision of market goods and services, are central to the process of social reproduction of the population. 2 Unpaid work is essential, both for those who benefit from it and for those who do it; it is part of the basic organisation of living conditions, and it reflects historical relationships between men and women, classes and generations.