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Paternal Leave, Child Care and Work-Life Balance

Labour economics

Senior Researcher : Jennifer Graves

Research Centre or Institution : Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.


We study the changes in the use of time dedicated to childcare and domestic chores before and after the start of the confinement period in the spring of 2020 in Spain resulting from Covid-19. Confinement served as an unanticipated exogenous shock that forced families to adjust their time allocation between paid and unpaid work. This allowed us to study the household reallocation of domestic work in response to this joint burden of often having to continue working from home, and the inability to outsource the care of children or domestic chores. To this end, we carried out two rounds of surveys, one in May and another in November of 2020.

Using this unique survey data, we show that the pandemic resulted in an increase in the gender gap in total hours worked, including paid and unpaid work. This is due to the smaller decrease in paid work hours among women that was not compensated by a smaller increase in unpaid work. We also examine the impact of the lockdown on within-household specialization patterns. We find that while men slightly increased their participation in home production, the burden continued to be borne by women, irrespective of their labor market situation. We also provide evidence that traditional explanations based on comparative advantage or time availability cannot fully account for the specialization patterns observed within households. Additional analysis supports gender norms as a plausible explanation for our findings.


Scientific Production
Magazine Articles 6
Communications at national conferences 2
Communications at international conferences 8


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