Gender Inequality in Paid and Unpaid Work During Covid-19 Times

Authors: Lídia Farré, Yarine Fawaz, Libertad González and Jennifer Graves

Review of Income and Wealth, December, 2021

We employ real-time household data to study the impact of the pandemic lockdown on paid and unpaid work in Spain. We document large employment losses that affected more severely low-skilled workers and to some extent college educated women. We show that the pandemic resulted in an increase in the gender gap in total hours worked, including paid and unpaid work. This is due to the smaller decrease in paid work hours among women that was not compensated by a smaller increase in unpaid work. We also examine the impact of the lockdown on within-household specialization patterns. We find that while men slightly increased their participation in home production, the burden continued to be borne by women, irrespective of their labor market situation. This evidence suggests that traditional explanations cannot account for the unequal distribution of the domestic workload. Additional analysis supports gender norms as a plausible explanation for our findings.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona School of Economics Working Paper 1188