Who's minding the children: Gender equity in the first 2 years of the pandemic

Joseph Marlo, Marc A. Scott, Sharon L. Weinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The wholesale changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to men and women's paid work arrangements and work–family balance provide a natural experiment for testing the common elements of two theories, needs exposure (Schafer et al. Canadian Review of Sociology/Revue Canadienne De Sociologie, 57(4);2020:523–549) and parental proximity (Sullivan et al. Family Theory & Review, 2018;10(1):263–279) against a third theory also suggested by Schafer et al. (2020), and labelled in this article, entrenchment/exacerbation of gender inequality. Both needs exposure and parental proximity suggest that by being home because of the pandemic, in proximity to their children, fathers are exposed to new and enduring family needs, which may move them toward more equal sharing in childcare and other domestic responsibilities. By contrast to studies that have tested such theories using retrospective, self-report survey data over a 2-year period, we analyse more than a decade of time-use diary data from the American Time Use Survey (ATUS) that covers the first 2 years of the pandemic. We model the secular and quarterly trends to predict what would have occurred in the absence of the pandemic, contrasting this to what indeed happened. Our analyses consider aggregate and individual impacts, using methods of sequence analysis, clustering, and matching. Among our results, we find that the division of childcare responsibilities did not become more equitable during the pandemic. Suggestions for future research are provided as are suggestions for the implementation of social policies that could influence greater gender equity in unpaid work and childcare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-530
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Social Welfare
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • COVID-19
  • Mahalanobis matching
  • childcare
  • clustering
  • gender gap
  • interrupted time-series
  • sequence analysis
  • time-use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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