This should come as little surprise to many mothers: the additional care of children in the corona crisis is mainly provided by women. This is the central result of a study published by the Economic and Social Science Institute (WSI) of the trade union-affiliated Hans Böckler Foundation.
“The pandemic not only exposes problematic inequalities in economic and social opportunities, it often exacerbates them,” said WSI Director Bettina Kohlrausch. For the evaluation in April, the researchers interviewed more than 7600 workers online.
Just over a quarter of mothers work less
Because daycare centres and schools were closed for weeks and the regular operation is still a long way off, a number of children have to be looked after and taught at home. According to the study, it is mainly women who reduce their working hours in order to fulfil this task – 27 percent of the mothers with children under the age of 14 surveyed, but only 16 percent of fathers. For low- and middle-income households, this effect is not particularly strong.
The authors suspect that families with little money often cannot afford to give up the – usually higher – salary of the man. “Couples who behave in this way often act rationally in the short term under the pressure of the crisis situation. They don’t see an alternative at the moment,” Kohlrausch said.
The researchers fear that the gender pay gap could widen in the long run – if the economic consequences of the Corona crisis persist for even longer and women may not be able to return to their previous working hours.
Less equality in childcare
According to The study, equality in childcare has also suffered noticeably as a result of Corona’ study: of couples who had shared care fairly before the crisis, only around 60 percent said they would continue to do so. By contrast, 30 percent were more likely to take care of children and only 10 percent to men. Here, too, inequality is even greater among households with net net savings of less than EUR 2000 per month.
At least for the lower income groups, more financial support is needed if working hours have to be reduced because of childcare in the Corona Crisis, the researchers demanded. Otherwise, there is a risk of growing inequality between women and men.
The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) called for the policy to urgently counteract this by prolonging and increasing aid for parents. Otherwise, old role patterns threatened to solidify again.