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Gender inequality in paid and unpaid work after the pandemic

Lídia Farré, Universitat de Barcelona; Libertad González, Universitat Pompeu Fabra and BSE
Commissioned research

In this study we document the changes in men and women’s time dedication to paid and unpaid work, two years after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic. In order to do this we are using two representative samples of people aged between 25 and 50 years, with information relating to the period prior to the first lockdown (13 March 2020); to the period during the first lockdown (May 2020); and to the period following the pandemic (May 2022). Analysis of the data suggests that there have been some changes in the organisation of family and working life that could favour gender equality inside and outside the home.
Key points
  • 1
       Two years after the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, the gender gap in the total of weekly working hours, including paid and unpaid work, has been reduced due to the higher participation of men in non-paid work.
  • 2
       After the pandemic, men spend on average 3 hours more a week on childcare, and women 3 hours less. Increased exposure to family responsibilities during lockdown and the promotion of more flexible working practices could be responsible for men’s greater involvement in domestic care tasks.
  • 3
       In May 2022, some 30% of men and 33% of women with children aged under 17 years were working from home at least one day per week. Among workers without children, this figure stands at 26% for men and women alike. In both cases, they agree that the biggest benefit of working from home is that it facilities a better balance between family and working life.
  • 4
       Working days seem to have been shortened. While men and women have recovered the level of hours dedicated to paid work of before the pandemic, the percentage of men who work after 5 p.m. has fallen by 9% (from 71% to 62% among those with children, and from 73% to 64% among those without) and that of women by 6% among those with children (from 61% to 55%) and by 9% among those without (from 73% to 64%).
  • 5
       The results of this study suggest that reducing the importance of presence at the workplace and promoting working hours compatible with family responsibilities could favour gender equality both inside and outside the home.
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