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The Covid-19 pandemic and working parents: evidence from Brisith longitudinal data

We document the difficulties faced by working parents during the Covid-19 pandemic, and in particular the increased financial insecurity and worsening mental health due to conflicting family and work needs. We analyse the heterogeneous effects of these factors on different groups of parents, depending on socio-economic status, gender and family structure. We use data from a large and detailed longitudinal survey of British families, now including two waves of post-Covid-19 data, collected in April and May 2020. Our study is the first one to analyse the impact of the pandemic on working parents, using a unique dataset allowing to access to important pre-pandemic information. Our findings show that working parents have experienced substantial levels of financial stress, which are much higher than in previous waves. In particular, families with many or very young children, and low pre-pandemic income, are particularly vulnerable to the increased financial insecurity. Further, our results show that very long hours of home schooling/child care (more than 20 hours per week) and the need to arrange working schedule because of home schooling are very detrimental for working parents’ mental well-being, especially for feeling under strain, losing sleep and lack of concentration. Interestingly, parents spending long hours in child care/home schooling are mostly well-educated working mothers. Working mothers and parents with relatively high income are particularly affected by time spent in child care and home schooling; for these groups, family caring responsibilities are one of the most important determinants of worsening mental well-being during the pandemic.

Lead investigator:

Zhiming Cheng


University of New South Wales

Primary topic:

Families & households

Secondary topic:

Health, physical & mental

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection


Type of data being collected:

Publicly available

Unit of real-time data collection


End date



Periodic (other)