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The impact of covid-19 on the gender gap in hours actually worked

Maite Blázquez and Ainhoa Herrarte, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid; Ana Isabel Moro-Egido, Universidad de Granada
Project selected in the Call to support research projects on the social impact of covid-19

The covid-19 pandemic has reduced the number of hours actually worked in Spain. This reduction has affected men more than women, leading to a 15.7% decrease in the gender gap. However, in households with small children (0-4 years), the result has been inverted, so that it has been women, to a larger extent than men, who have seen a reduction in the number of hours they have actually worked. One plausible explanation for this phenomenon could be, as a consequence of the closure of schools and nurseries with the outbreak of the pandemic, that women have taken on greater workloads in terms of childcare. This would have made their possibilities for reconciling family and working life more difficult.
Key points
  • 1
       Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, women occupied full-time were working on average 2.7 hours less than men, which translated into a gap of 5.3% in hours actually worked.
  • 2
       Since the start of the pandemic, during the second and third quarter of 2020, the number of hours actually worked fell with respect to the same quarters of 2019. However, this phenomenon was manifested with greater intensity among men, so the gender gap in hours worked was reduced to 4.4%.
  • 3
       With the outbreak of the pandemic, the number of hours worked by women exceeded that of men among skilled workers in agriculture, traditional craftspeople and skilled workers in industry and construction. However, this was only true for skilled workers who had no children or when their children were aged over 15.
  • 4
       The reduction in the gender gap did not occur, however, among occupied people with children aged between 0 and 4 years as, in this case, women saw their hours actually worked reduced to a greater extent than men. The presence of small children tended to accentuate the gender gap, except in activities considered as essential.
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