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A gendered pandemic: Childcare, homeschooling, and parents' employment during COVID-19

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Petts, R. J., Carlson, D. L. & Pepin, J. R.
Publication Date: 
23 Dec 2021

Excerpted from abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically affected employment, particularly for mothers. Many believe that the loss of childcare and homeschooling requirements are key contributors to this trend, but previous work has been unable to test these hypotheses due to data limitations. This study uses novel data from 989 partnered, US parents to empirically examine whether the loss of childcare and new homeschooling demands are associated with employment outcomes early in the pandemic. We also consider whether the division of childcare prior to the pandemic is associated with parents' employment. For parents with young children, the loss of full-time childcare was associated with an increased risk of unemployment for mothers but not fathers. Yet, father involvement in childcare substantially buffered against negative employment outcomes for mothers of young children. For parents with school-age children, participation in homeschooling was associated with adverse employment outcomes for mothers but not fathers. Overall, this study provides empirical support for the current discourse on gender differences in employment during the pandemic and also highlights the role fathers can play in buffering against reduced labor force participation among mothers.