Questions and answers about
the UK economy.

The short- and long-term consequences of Covid-19 on gender equality

The Covid-19 crisis has substantially affected the organisation of work in the labor market and in the household. In particular, with the start of the lock-down, virtually none of the typical components of home production can be outsourced to the market, and the closure of schools and nurseries has added education and childcare services to pre-existing home production needs. Increased childcare needs may fall more heavily on women in so far as new loads are distributed among parents according to baseline specialization patterns. However, in 20% of UK households with dependent children, women are working (possibly long hours) in critical jobs, while men are forced at home by the lockdown. In these households, it is plausible to expect a reversal of the usual gap in home production hours, with men taking over the bulk of increased childcare needs during the lockdown. We will study whether these temporary changes in the organization of work may produce permanent effects beyond the crisis via learning, habit formation and the evolution of social norms. We will combine the annual waves of Understanding Society with the monthly supplements introduced during Covid-19 to investigate: (i) how parents' contribution to childcare is affected during the lockdown, according to their sector of employment and to the possibility of working from home; (ii) whether some of the observed changes in parental roles will survive once the lockdown is over; (iii) whether these changes are accompanied by changes in gender norms.

Lead investigator:

Claudia Hupkau



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


Start date




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