Growing diversity in couples' work patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria




employment, couples, COVID-19, Austria, inequality, lockdown


Objective: This paper studies changes in couples’ work patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on socio-economic status and children’s age.

Background: We contribute to previous research by examining flows between different work patterns using panel data and by providing evidence for a conservative welfare state.

Method: Analyses are based on the Austrian Labour Force Surveys 2019-20 and include different-sex couples with children below age 15 (n=930 to 3,053). We applied (multinomial) logistic regression models.

Results: The findings reveal a polarization into both more egalitarian (e.g., partners work equal hours) and more traditional (e.g., sole male earner) models during the first lockdown, while the moderate male full-time/female part-time model strongly declined. Among the two more egalitarian models, the "about equal hours" model was mostly fuelled by families with lower socio-economic status, conversely the "role reversal" model (woman more hours) grew predominantly among couples where the female partner was highly educated or had a high earnings share. Retraditionalisation was mainly restricted to women with weaker positions on the labour market: The male sole worker model progressed among families with younger children and when the female earnings share was low.

Conclusion: Overall, more couples transited to egalitarian than traditional work patterns. This shift was largely confined to the first lockdown and chiefly driven by men’s rise in short-time work.


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How to Cite

Berghammer, C., & Riederer, B. (2024). Growing diversity in couples’ work patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic in Austria. Journal of Family Research, 36, 138–159.




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