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Fathers matter: Intrahousehold responsibilities and children's wellbeing during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy

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Mangiavacchi, L. Piccoli, L., & Pieroni, L.
Publication Date: 
13 May 2021

Excerpted from Abstract

The lockdown imposed during the spring of 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic upset families lives, in addition to the health consequences of the virus, forcing parents to completely reorganize their labor, domestic work and childcare time. At the same time, school closures forced children to rearrange their lives and learning processes: in Italy, schools and nurseries were closed for four months, and the incidence and quality of distance learning activities was heterogeneous across education levels and among schools. Using real-time survey data on families with under-16 children collected in April 2020, which include information on parents’ market and household work, and their perception of their children's wellbeing, we estimate how the lockdown has affected children's use of time, their emotional status and their home learning, and whether the reallocation of intrahousehold responsibilities during the lockdown played a role in this process. Changes in the parental division of household tasks and childcare, mostly induced by the labor market restrictions imposed during the lockdown, point to a greater involvement of fathers in childcare and homeschooling activities. This positive variation in fathers’ involvement is accompanied by an increase in children's emotional wellbeing and by a reduction in TV and passive screen time. On the other hand, the quality of children's home learning does not appear to depend on which parent is overseeing their work, but rather on the type of distance learning activities proposed by their teachers.