Impact of the pandemic on families: work and childcare place greater burden on women than men

Bern, 18.06.2020 - A study commissioned by the Federal Office for Gender Equality provides ini-tial answers to the question of how the workload of the Swiss population has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings show that the additional childcare obligations resulting from home schooling and limited childcare op-tions added to the respondents’ workload. Working women were affected to a greater extent than working men.

Whether or not you live in a household with children has a decisive impact on the workload during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is the finding of a study conducted by Sotomo on behalf of the Federal Office for Gender Equality FOGE. The study also reveals a marked difference between the sexes.

Greater burden on households with children
The measures taken by the Federal Council to contain the coronavirus had severe consequences particularly for respondents with children requiring childcare. Employees were expected to work from home, while schools were closed and childcare options were limited. Around a quarter to nearly a third of respondents living with children under the age of 16, stated that home schooling and caring for their children left them with less time for work. Respondents without children requiring care in their household were more likely to state that they had experienced no major change in their workload.

Social background plays a key role: respondents with a better education tended to experience less time for work. Parents with a lower level of education are more likely to have jobs they cannot do from home and are therefore less able to home school or take care of their children.

Women have less time for gainful employment than men
The results of the study are in line with those obtained in international studies: women and men are affected by crises to different extents. Women shoulder more of the additional burden of home schooling and childcare than men. While schools were closed and childcare options were limited, more women than men, in Switzerland and other countries, indicated that they had less time for their jobs. However, both men and women with children requiring care experienced the increased time required to care for their children as stressful. Well-educated women were most likely to report less time for their jobs.

Tension and conflict
The crisis had an impact on the atmosphere at home. Roughly, one in five respondents said they experienced more tension and conflict at home than before the pandemic. Over time, there was a slight increase in the proportion of men who perceived increased tension and conflict at home, while a slight decrease was seen for women.

The analysis is based on data from the SRG coronavirus monitor. The survey was carried out in four waves between 22 March and 8 June, with an average of 30,000 people participating in each wave.

The study offers an initial insight into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Swiss population, and its influence on work and family life. Together with the federal policy brief on the Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force, it forms a basis for shaping the gender equality strategy adopted by the Federal Council as part of its new legislature plan.

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Federal Office for Gender Equality

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