The division of child care during the coronavirus crisis in Germany: How did short-time work affect fathers' engagement?
Keywords:father's involvement, employment, Germany, gendered division of care
Objective: This paper examines how participation in the short-time work scheme affected the gendered division of child care during the COVID-19 crisis in Germany.
Background: Short-time work (Kurzarbeit) has been one of the main policies used to combat the economic and labour market repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic in Germany. We examine whether and, if so, how the growing prevalence of short-time work has affected care patterns.
Method: We use data from the IAB-HOPP, a longitudinal study monitored by the German Institute for Employment Research (IAB). The analytical sample includes couples with children aged 12 and younger. We employ multinomial logistic regressions in which the outcome variable is the change in the division of care work from a period before to a period during the coronavirus crisis (June to October 2020).
Results: We find that among men, receiving short-time work benefits resulted in more gender-equal care patterns. The positive effect of short-time work on the division of child care is moderated by the level of education. Fathers with low or medium education are more likely to increase their child care share when receiving short-time work benefits compared to fathers with high education. However, we also find that participating in the short-time work programme had no strong or significant effects on the gendered division of care among women.
Conclusion: The evidence from this study suggests that men’s working time is a major vehicle to change the gendered division of care in couple households.