Estimating the immediate impact of the COVID-19 shock on parental attachment to the labor market and the double bind of mothers
Misty L. Heggeness
Published: October 2020
Journal: Review of Economics of the Household
This study examines the impact of the COVID-19 shock on parents’ labor supply during the initial stages of the pandemic. Using difference-in-difference estimation and monthly panel data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), I compare labor market attachment, non-work activity, hours worked, and earnings and wages of those in areas with early school closures and stay-in-place orders with those in areas with delayed or no pandemic closures. While there was no immediate impact on detachment or unemployment, mothers with jobs in early closure states were 68.8 percent more likely than mothers in late closure states to have a job but not be working as a result of early shutdowns. There was no effect on working fathers or working women without school age children. Mothers who continued working increased their work hours relative to comparable fathers; this effect, however, appears entirely driven by a reduction in fathers’ hours worked. Overall, the pandemic appears to have induced a unique immediate juggling act for working parents of school age children. Mothers took a week of leave from formal work; fathers working full time, for example, reduced their hours worked by 0.53 hours over the week. While experiences were different for mothers and fathers, each are vulnerable to scarring and stunted opportunities for career growth and advancement due to the pandemic.