Workin' moms ain't doing so bad: Evidence on the gender gap in working hours at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic




IAB-HOPP, corona, labour market participation, gender, motherhood penalty


Objective: In this project, we study changes in the working hours of men and women with and without children in the early phase of the COVID-19 crisis in Germany until August 2020.

Background: The COVID-19 outbreak in Europe led to a sharp decrease in economic activity, along with temporary closures of childcare facilities and schools. Subsequent changes in working hours in the early phase of the pandemic and during summer 2020 may have contributed to inequalities between men and women or parents and non-parents respectively.

Method: We use a unique panel dataset containing monthly survey data of the Institute for Employment Research (the IAB-HOPP) combined with administrative data of the German Federal Employment Agency. We run regression models with the change in working hours (before the crisis vs. working time at each panel wave) as the dependent variable and gender, parental status, and childcare arrangement as the main independent variables.

Results: We observe a comparable reduction in working hours for both men and women during the spring lockdown. However, only the working hours of women recover and return to their pre-crisis level in summer 2020. Most surprisingly, having children has an accelerating effect on recovery for mothers but not for fathers. At the end of the observation period, fathers do not recover as fully as mothers do.

Conclusion: These results challenge concerns about a temporary or possibly persistent 're-traditionalisation' of gender roles during the COVID-19 crisis.


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How to Cite

Knize, V., Tobler, L., Christoph, B., Fervers, L., & Jacob, M. (2022). Workin’ moms ain’t doing so bad: Evidence on the gender gap in working hours at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Family Research, 34(1), 161–192.