A multi-university research team, including Richard Petts, a Bell State University sociology professor, has updated a brief on how parents are sharing household chores during the pandemic.
“Men and Women Agree: During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Men Are Doing More at Home” found that prior to the start of the pandemic, 26 percent of parents reported sharing routine housework relatively equally with their partner, 41 percent reported sharing care for young children relatively equally (although physical childcare and the mental load of organizing children’s lives were by and large mothers’ responsibilities), and 42 percent reported sharing care of older children.
A little more than a month after the start of the pandemic, 41 percent of parents reported sharing housework with their partners- a significant 58 percent increase- while the percentage of partnered parents reporting equal sharing care of young and older children also increased significantly, to 52 percent and 56 percent respectively, the study found.
The proportion sharing in the care of young and older children grew by 27 and 24 percent respectively, driven by increases in equal sharing of physical care, monitoring, reading, and organizing children’s activities.
“Nonetheless, just the experience of having heightened responsibilities for housework and childcare during this time bodes well for men’s continued involvement in housework and childcare,” researchers said, “As research on paternity leave demonstrates, men who take leave, especially extended leave (i.e. two months), continue their involvement in housework and childcare over the long-term- even after returning to work. The longer the pandemic lasts, the more hardships most of us will experience. But, perhaps, in the aftermath, the patterns of domestic involvement men are establishing now will become a new normal.”
Petts coauthored the study with researchers Daniel L. Carlson from the University of Utah and Joanna R. Pepin from the University of Texas at Austin.
In late April, Petts and the research team surveyed 1,060 U.S. parents residing with a partner of the opposite sex to examine how divisions of housework and child care may have changed since March 11, when the World Health Organization (WHO) classified COVID-19 as a pandemic.
Researchers analyzed changes in routine housework, care of children under age 6, and care of children ages 6 to 17. Routine housework includes cooking meals, doing dishes, house cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping.
You can read the brief at https://contemporaryfamilies.org/covid-couples-division-of-labor/.