In the past, considerable research in gerontology has focused on services provided to seniors. Recently, however, there has a been a growing recognition of the contributions made by seniors to their families, communities and to society. Empirical estimates have been provided by researchers to show how much these contributions are worth in terms of savings in dollar amounts.
A critical review of the literature identifies unresolved issues concerning which contributions to count and how to measure and value these contributions. As yet, no clear criteria exist that readily identify the distinction between volunteer activities and unpaid work, what specifically should be counted as an unpaid time contribution, how it should be quantified, and how this unit of contribution should be monetarily valued. The market replacement approach and the opportunity cost approach that are used to assign value to unpaid work often use very different wage rates or levels of income loss.
This paper reviews the relevant literature and identifies important issues in evaluating unpaid time contribution of seniors. The authors propose a framework which addresses some of the methodological shortcomings identified in previous research and which provides a guide for future research in this area.