The lockdown imposed following the COVID-19 pandemic of spring 2020 dramatically changed the daily lives and routines of millions of people worldwide. We analyse how such changes contributed to gender inequality within the household using a novel survey of Italian, British, and American families in lockdown. A high percentage report disruptions in the patterns of family life, manifesting in new work patterns, chore allocations, and household tensions. Though men have taken an increased share of childcare and grocery shopping duties, reallocations are not nearly as stark as disruptions to work patterns might suggest, and families having to reallocate duties report greater tensions. Our results paint a picture of tightened constraints budging up against stable and gendered patterns of intra-household cooperation. While the long-run consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown on family life cannot be assessed at this stage, we point towards the likely opportunities and challenges.
First version, June 23, 2020
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
J12: Marriage; Marital Dissolution; Family Structure; Domestic Abuse
D13: Household Production and Intrahousehold Allocation
D15: Intertemporal Household Choice; Life Cycle Models and Saving
D63: Equity; Justice; Inequality; and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement