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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Real choices real lives: Latin America
Institution: Plan International
Published: October 2022

This report, focusing on evidence from Brazil, Dominican Republic, and El Salvador, forms part of Plan International’s ongoing research, Real Choices, Real Lives – a qualitative, longitudinal study following the lives of girls living in nine countries* around the world from their birth (in 2006), until they turn 18 (in 2024). Through annual data collection, Real Choices, Real Lives captures unique insights into what it means to grow up as a girl across different contexts, including how families and communities shape expectations of what girls can do, and be, right from the moment they are born.

"Having a family is the new normal": parenting in neoliberal academia during the COVID‐19 pandemic

Thais França; Filipa Godinho; Beatriz Padilla (et al.)

Published: August 2022   Journal: Gender, Work & Organization
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has made explicit the burden of care shouldered by academic mothers, in addition to juggling their scholarly commitments. Although discussions are abundant on the impact of caring responsibilities on the careers of women academics, neoliberal academia continues to minimize such struggles. Despite the disruptions to family routines caused by the health crisis, academic institutions have expected academic mothers and fathers to continue undertaking their professional responsibilities at the same level as before, disregarding their parenting demands. This paper contributes to the research on parenthood in academia by looking at how, throughout the pandemic, academic parents have negotiated the tensions between parenthood and academic demands, and by investigating the strategies they use to confront neoliberal culture of academic performativity, even amid the health crisis. The paper engages with the “space invaders” concept used by Puwar (2004) to analyze the “hypervisibility” of academic mothers' and fathers' “bodies out of place” during the pandemic, and to investigate their “renegade acts” against the uncaring attitudes of their institutions. Evidence is drawn from a qualitative study conducted during December 2020 and January 2021 among scholars affiliated to Portuguese academic institutions: 17 in-depth interviews conducted with women, and two mixed-gender focus groups.
Work and family disadvantage: determinants of gender gaps in paid work during the COVID-19 pandemic

Yasmin A. Mertehikian; Pilar Gonalons-Pons

Published: August 2022   Journal: Socius
This article provides a comprehensive analysis of the increase in gender inequality in paid work during the pandemic to unpack the relative relevance of labor market and work-family conflict processes. Using panel data from the United States Current Population Survey, we examine four mechanisms in an integrated analysis that explicitly includes singleparent households and assesses the moderating role of women’s economic position relative to their partners.
COVID-19 and gender gaps in employment, wages, and work hours: lower inequalities and higher motherhood penalty

Maryna Tverdostup

Published: August 2022   Journal: Comparative Economic Studies
This paper investigates the dynamics and drivers of gender gaps in employment rates, wages, and work hours during the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on Estonian Labor Force Survey data for 2009–2020. It documents that the pandemic has, if anything, reduced gender inequality in all three domains. The evolution of inequalities revealed cyclical pattern mirroring infection rate, with upswings largely driven by parenthood and gender segregation into industries. The results suggest that labor market penalties for women with young children and women employed in affected sectors may last longer than the pandemic, threatening to widen gender inequality in a long run.
Remote workers' free associations with working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria: the interaction between children and gender

Martina Hartner-Tiefenthaler; Eva Zedlacher; Tarek Josef el Sehity (et al.)

Published: August 2022   Journal: Frontiers in Psychology
Empirical evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic shows that women carried the major burden of additional housework in families. In a mixed-methods study, we investigate female and male remote workers’ experiences of working from home (WFH) during the pandemic. We used the free association technique to uncover remote workers’ representations about WFH (i.e., workers’ reflection of subjective experiences). Based on a sample of 283 Austrian remote workers cohabitating with their intimate partners our findings revealed that in line with traditional social roles, men and women in parent roles are likely to experience WFH differently. Mothers’ representations about WFH emphasize perceived incompatibility between the work and non-work sphere whereas fathers’ representations highlight work-family facilitation of WFH.

The Covid-19 pandemic and gendered division of paid work, domestic chores and leisure: evidence from India’s first wave

Ashwini Deshpande

Published: July 2022   Journal: Economia Politica
Examining high frequency national-level panel data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) on paid work (employment) and unpaid work (time spent on domestic work), this paper examines the effects of the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic on the gender gaps in paid and unpaid work until December 2020, using difference-in-differences (D-I-D) for estimating the before (the pandemic) and after (the pandemic set in) effects, and event study estimates around the strict national lockdown in April 2020. The DID estimates reveal a lowering of the gender gap in employment probabilities which occurs due to the lower probability of male employment, rather than an increase in female employment.
COVID-19's silver linings: exploring the impacts of work-family enrichment for married working mothers during and after the COVID-19 partial lockdown in Ghana

Kwaku Abrefa Busia; Francis Arthur-Holmes; Annie Hau Nung Chan

Published: July 2022   Journal: Journal of Family Studies
Recent scholarship suggests that women have disproportionately been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic amidst lockdowns and school closures which have altogether increased women’s caregiving burden, unpaid housework and stress levels. Notwithstanding its negative impacts, this article argues that the lockdowns and school closures related to COVID-19 also had beneficial outcomes for some working mothers who had to combine work and family roles. Drawing from qualitative interviews with 39 married working mothers in both formal and informal employment, this study finds that these women during and after the partial lockdowns in urban Ghana, experienced various outcomes of work-to-family enrichment (increased time spent with family, self-rated improved sleep health, financial security), family-to-work enrichment (reduced family demands, improved work performance and output) and a mix of both (cultivation of life skills, greater personal satisfaction and happiness). Applying a role expansionist framework, the study shows the ‘positive side’ of the pandemic for married working mothers who had to juggle work and family demands.
The children, the family, the household, and myself, these made the quarantine up for me, and I was really happy with it - positive evaluations of the first COVID-19 lockdown among middle-class Hungarian mothers

Nikolett Somogyi; Beáta Nagy; Réka Geambașu (et al.)

Published: July 2022   Journal: Journal of Family Studies
During the first COVID-19-related lockdown in the spring of 2020, working parents of young children were in difficult situation when having to manage the multiple burdens. In the studied societies, unpaid household tasks are considered to be primarily female responsibilities, intensive mothering ideals are widespread, and the access to flexible-work arrangements is marginal. In present study, we demonstrate how the above characteristics, created a context, in which – despite the difficulties – participants could evaluate this period overall positively during the first lockdown. Fifty-two interviews were conducted with partnered Hungarian mothers living in Hungary and in Transylvania (Romania), in May–June 2020. Since the home-sphere became the main scene of life during the lockdown, women’s caregiving role has increased in worth. Performing it well provided them an increased wellbeing benefit, and it helped them to evaluate the lockdown period positively. They appreciated having the longed-for opportunity to telework, which enabled enacting intensive mothering in a better accordance with social expectations than before the pandemic.
Gender disparities in increased parenting time during the COVID-19 pandemic: a research note

Jennifer March Augustine; Kate Prickett

Published: July 2022   Journal: Demography
Public health measures aimed at curbing the transmission of COVID-19 increased parenting responsibilities during the early stages of the pandemic. This research note examines time-use data from the American Time Use Surveys to provide several fresh insights as to how mothers took on a disproportionate share of this responsibility compared to fathers during this period. First, the gender gap in total parenting time narrowed by 18%. Meanwhile, the gender disparity in time in educational activities increased by 113% and was not explained by changes in mothers’ labor force participation. Mothers also took on 20% more time in secondary caregiving compared to fathers. Estimates among working parents indicated that the amount of time in which mothers coupled paid work with caregiving increased by 346% compared to fathers. These results highlight how fathers marginally increased their caregiving responsibilities compared to mothers, but not in activities that parents tend to rate as more stressful or intensive, such as supervising children's schooling and multitasking at work. The estimates provide clear evidence of the unequal caregiving burden placed on mothers during the pandemic.
Essential work and emergency childcare: identifying gender differences in COVID-19 effects on labour demand and supply

Jordy Meekes; Wolter H. J. Hassink; Guyonne Kalb

Published: July 2022   Journal: Oxford Economic Papers,
This study examines whether the COVID-19 crisis affects women and men differently in terms of employment, working hours, and hourly wages, and whether the effects are demand or supply driven. COVID-19 impacts are studied using administrative data on all Dutch employees up to December 2020, focussing on the national lockdowns and emergency childcare for essential workers in the Netherlands. First, the impact of COVID-19 is much larger for non-essential workers than for essential workers. Although female non-essential workers are more affected than male non-essential workers, on average, women and men are equally affected, because more women than men are essential workers. Second, the impact for partnered essential workers with young children, both men and women, is not larger than for others. Third, single-parent essential workers respond with relatively large reductions in labour supply, suggesting emergency childcare was insufficient for them. Overall, labour demand effects appear larger than labour supply effects.
Gender differences in housework and childcare among Japanese workers during the COVID‐19 pandemic

Toshihide Sakuragi; Rie Tanaka; Mayumi Tsuji (et al.)

Published: July 2022   Journal: Journal of Occupational Health

Although gender stereotypes regarding paid work and unpaid work are changing, most wives are responsible for taking care of the family and home in Japan. It is unclear how time spent on housework and childcare has changed between working men and women during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan. The purpose of this study is to investigate how working men and women’s responsibilities for housework and childcare changed during the COVID-19 pandemic in Japan depending on work hours, job type, the number of employees in the workplace, and frequency of telecommuting. A cross-sectional analysis (N = 14,454) was conducted using data from an Internet monitoring study (CORoNa Work Project), which was conducted in December 2020. A multilevel logistic model with nested prefectures of residence was conducted to estimate the odds ratio (OR) for change in time devoted to housework and childcare among men and women adjusting for age, household income, presence of spouse who work, work hours, job type, the number of employees in the workplace, frequency of telecommuting, and the incidence rate of COVID-19 by prefecture.

Mothers' domestic responsibilities and well-being during the COVID-19 lockdown: the moderating role of gender essentialist beliefs about parenthood

Kjærsti Thorsteinsen; Elizabeth J. Parks-Stamm; Marie Kvalø (et al.)

Published: July 2022   Journal: Sex Roles
The present work investigates how the increased domestic responsibilities created by the Spring 2020 lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in Norway and gender ideologies relate to the well-being of mothers with elementary school children. In June 2020, a cross-sectional online study including current and retrospective measures with 180 mothers (Mage = 39.96 years, SD = 6.11) of elementary school children across Norway was conducted. First, in line with earlier research on the strain of the pandemic on parents, and especially mothers, this study found that Norwegian mothers’ well-being during the lockdown significantly declined compared to before the lockdown (both measured retrospectively). Furthermore, mothers’ well-being after the Spring 2020 lockdown did not immediately return to pre-lockdown levels. Finally, it predicted that gender ideologies (i.e., essentialist beliefs about parenthood) would exacerbate the negative impact of increased domestic responsibilities (i.e., childcare and housework) on mothers’ well-being (i.e., higher standard-higher stress hypothesis).
Factors associated with adolescent pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic: a review of socioeconomic influences and essential interventions

Kelly Kons; Adriana A. E. Biney; Kristin Sznajder

Published: June 2022   Journal: International Journal of Sexual Health
A literature review was conducted to analyze the impact of COVID-19 on documented preexisting determinants of adolescent pregnancy in sub-Saharan Africa such as poverty, inequitable gender norms, low access to education, and reproductive health services. The terms “sub-Saharan Africa,” “Gender Norms,” “Poverty,” and “Adolescent Pregnancy” were used to search the literature for preexisting determinants of adolescent pregnancy in academic and grey literature. “COVID-19” was added to investigate the potential consequences of the pandemic. The literature revealed similar experiences in adolescent girls during the Ebola outbreak, which lead to the analysis of government and healthcare official responses to previous epidemics.
When family interrupted work: the implications of gendered role perception in the face of COVID‐19

S. Susie Lee; Melody M. Chao; Hongwei He (et al.)

Published: June 2022   Journal: Journal of Social Issues
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals are confronted with the work-from-home challenge, which often results in work-family interference. Although prior to COVID-19, the influence of traditional gender role expectations was shown to be reduced over time, it is unclear whether and how such traditional worldview might influence judgments towards men and women when family interrupted work under the threat of COVID-19. This study presented and tested competing predictions derived from the gender role theory. An experimental study with 971 adults showed that during (vs. before) COVID-19 pandemic, men were evaluated more negatively when they experienced family interruption to work compared with women. The negative evaluation further led to more punitive reactions and less support at work. The results suggested that gender role expectations reinforced the traditional status quo by punishing status-quo-breakers under the threat of COVID-19.
Who is doing the chores and childcare in dual-earner couples during the COVID-19 era of working from home?

Sabrina Wulff Pabilonia

Published: May 2022
In 2020, parents' work-from-home days increased fourfold following the initial COVID-19 pandemic lockdown period compared to 2015–2019. At the same time, many daycares closed, and the majority of public schools offered virtual or hybrid classrooms, increasing the demand for household-provided childcare. Using time diaries from American Time Use Survey (ATUS) and looking at parents in dual-earner couples, this study examines parents' weekday workday time allocated to paid work, chores, and childcare in the COVID-19 era by the couple's joint work location arrangements. It determines the work location of the ATUS respondent directly from their diary and proxy the partner's work-from-home status using the share of workers reporting work from home in their occupation. When their partners worked on-site, mothers and fathers working from home spent more time on childcare, especially mothers, compared to those on-site; fathers spent more time on household chores. However, only mothers' total unpaid and paid work burden was higher.

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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.


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