Gender, Racial, and Class Disparities in COVID-19 Impacts on Parent’s Work & Family Time
Liana C. Sayer, University of Maryland
The pandemic has caused sharp disruptions in work and family patterns and exacerbated chronic and life stressors for individuals and families. Impacts have varied by employment status and disproportionately
affected mothers, particularly those who are newly un- and under-employed. Gendered structural and cultural factors reduce mothers’ employment and leisure time and increase household and care work relative to fathers. Labor market shocks like the Great Recession and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected gender
differences in time use.
For example, the concentration of job loss among men during the 2008 recession led to a modest uptick in married fathers’ household and care work and women getting jobs or increasing work
hours if employed. However, during the pandemic, job loss and reduced work hours have been concentrated among women and have affected all mothers and less educated and racial minority women more strongly.
Further, the pandemic has heightened time needed for care of children because of child care closures and
remote learning of schoolchildren. Today, three-quarters of parents of young children have either no market child care or drastically reduced hours. The lack of formal child care affects mothers more than fathers,
because of the gendered responsibility for child care and ideology of intensive mothering. Existing studies of influences of COVID-19 on parental time use are limited because they analyze non-time diary data from convenience samples composed primarily of White, middle-class, married parents and investigate only paid and unpaid work.
We also know more about gender differences in job loss and, among those who are employed, the ability to work remotely than we know about how these changes have affect parents’ daily behaviors. A comprehensive assessment of how the economic and social shocks of COVID-19 mitigation strategies have altered gender differences across all domains of daily life and how these are conditioned by marital status, racial and ethnic, and social class variation is needed to advance understanding of the short and long-term consequences of the pandemic for parents and children. We use the large-sample nationally representative 2019 and 2020 American Time Use Survey (ATUS), the premier source of data to examine daily life before and during the pandemic.
We investigate how daily time in care work, housework, shopping, paid
work, leisure, and self-care vary by gender and employment status, established structural and cultural factors influencing how individuals allocate time. We consider variation across racial and ethnic and education groups.
About the speaker:
Liana C. Sayer is Director of the Maryland Time Use Laboratory and Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland. She is currently Editor, Journal of Marriage and Family. Her research explores vital questions on when, where and how time use matters, and for whom, over time and space. Published work shows that determinants of household work and gendered relationship dynamics are mediated by culturally distinct working time regimes and gender ideologies, such that progress toward gender equality is thwarted by the deeply intertwined, mutually reinforcing nature of gendered families and institutions. Her research has been published in Journal of Marriage and Family, Social Forces, and American Journal of Sociology. Sayer’s current projects reflect new explorations of time use variation within and between social groups, across generations, and around the world.