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The impact of Covid-19 on paid and unpaid work in the family: an international comparison

The Covid-19 pandemic has led governments worldwide to lock down their counties for several weeks. With the aim to curb the spread of the virus, most people have had to stay at home, working from their dwelling, and schools are closed. The quarantine has created an unusual situation where all members of the family, children and adults, are constrained to be close to each other during several weeks. Parents have to combine childcare, working time, and couple life. Especially for women, who are more exposed to intrahousehold gender inequality, this situation could be a big challenge. The closing of schools has, in practice, increased family work, the caregiving of young children, and the help needs of older children engaged in distance learning. The effects of the crisis on employed mothers are likely to be persistent, but there are possible changes of opposite direction that could in the long run reduce gender inequality in the labor market (Alon et al., 2020)1. First, companies are rapidly adopting flexible working arrangements, which are likely to persist at least in the medium term. Second, there are also many fathers who are forced to take direct responsibility in childcare. This increase in childcare time could in the long run erode social norms and reduce inequality in the division of domestic work and childcare. In such a context, the current project aims at analyzing how families reacted to the Covid-19 lockdown, through a cross-country perspective, and taking advantage of a web survey that we developed to collect data right in the middle of the crisis in four different countries (Spain, Italy, France, and Germany). Specifically, the project aims at analyzing household behavioural reactions in terms of housework and childcare responsibilities during the lockdown.

Lead investigator:

Lídia Farré


Universitat de Barcelona

Primary topic:

Families & households

Secondary topic:

Inequality & poverty

Region of data collection:


Country of data collection


Status of data collection

In Progress

Type of data being collected:

Online survey

Unit of real-time data collection