Consequences for Gender Inequalities

About this Session


Wed. 10.04. 17:05



Authors – Bettina Kohlrausch , Eileen Peters

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted governments worldwide to take drastic measures to contain the virus. Far-reaching mobility and contact restrictions, closures of institutional childcare and non-essential businesses, and increased flexible work arrangements have massively changed public and private life. The closure of external childcare facilities and schools has substantially increased care demands, primarily affecting parents’ organization of paid and unpaid work. In line with their role as primary caregivers, women took on the bulk of additional responsibilities (Collins et al., 2020; Kohlrausch & Zucco, 2020; Kreyenfeld & Zinn, 2021) and reduced their working hours to accommodate increased childcare demands (Bünning et al., 2020; Möhring et al., 2020). This has led some scholars to speak of a “patriarchal pandemic” (Chemaly, 2020), leading us back to the 1950s (Allmendinger, 2020), which is highlighted by research detecting a tendency of re-traditionalization in the gendered division of labour (Kohlrausch & Zucco, 2020). However, studies likewise showed that fathers increased their time spent on childcare, and some detected greater working hour reductions among fathers (Frodermann et al., 2020; Globisch & Osiander, 2020; Bujard et al., 2020). Thus, some scholars argue that the situation during the COVID-19 pandemic might help the gender revolution in the long run as men were confronted with the extent of unpaid household labour (Collins et al., 2020) and increased their time spent on childcare responsibilities (Alon et al., 2020). Most studies exploring the development of women’s and men’s working hours during the COVID-19 pandemic focus only on the first few months of the pandemic. Hence, it is unclear how gendered working time adjustments developed throughout the pandemic and afterward: were working time adaptions only of short duration? Did gendered working time patterns vary in different stages of the pandemic? Furthermore, most studies explored overall working time patterns, possibly blurring the dynamics of heterogeneous effects in working time increasements and reductions. The question arises whether there was a polarization in working time adjustments where some groups could increase their working hours, and others had to reduce them, creating diverse consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic: Who increased or decreased their working hours, and are their gender differences? How does the division of childcare responsibilities affect the probability of mothers’ labour market attachment? To answer these questions, this contribution uses the WSI-Erwerbspersonenbefragung with monthly data on working hours and information on the division of childcare and socioeconomic and workplace characteristics.