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Women Provided Much More Child Care Than Men During Pandemic

A new study from the Center for Global Development has found that women provided significantly more additional child care than men.

In the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has seen governments around the world impose mandated lockdowns, forcing businesses and schools to shut their doors for long periods of time. With students and their parents spending more time at home due to lockdowns and self-isolation policies, the study aims to explore how the pandemic has affected the gender gap in child care.

The research team analyzed a massive base of data aggregated from the World Bank, UNESCO, OECD, the Wittgenstein Centre, and the United Nations and found that women on average spent 173 more hours taking care of children from the time schools closed to October 2020. Men only provided 70. That gap is even worse in low- and middle-income countries, where women provided an average of 217 extra hours; that’s more than three times the men’s figure of 70 hours. The study notes that the total number of child care hours went up 12% during school closures.

This gender gap is nothing new — before the pandemic, women provided roughly 4.5 trillion hours of unpaid child care annually, while men provided 1.4 trillion. However, the results reported in this study find that women are being disproportionately affected by the additional child care work put on parents due to lockdowns.

According to Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development, the extra burden of care work on parents resulting from school closures was particularly hard on poor families.

Kenny said to USNews, “In a normal year, this care would be provided by preschool teachers and school teachers. And that’s all gone away.” He continued, “All parents, me included, do unpaid care in a normal year. But this is care that, in a normal year, would be provided by paid providers and is now being provided in addition to the usual care work that poor parents do.”

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