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Imprisonment was a positive experiment for men: now they take care of their children three hours more than before

Women are still responsible for housework and care at home, but the gender gap has narrowed slightly since the pandemic. This is the main conclusion of the study Gender inequality in paid and unpaid work after the pandemic Published by the social observatory of La Caixa Foundation, which analyzed how many hours a day men and women devote to these responsibilities on average. According to their data, they take care of their children three hours more per week than before the spread of the virus and three hours less.

The report is divided into two parts: childcare and household tasks such as washing, cooking or cleaning. And it analyzes the temporal distribution for both women and men in three sections: before the state of emergency declared in March 2020, during confinement and after the pandemic in May 2022. To do so, it is based on a voluntary survey of 5,001 people aged 25 to 50 with minor children in 2020 and 4,000 in the latter wave.

Thus, while men spent an average of 16 hours a week caring for their sons and daughters before incarceration, they now employ 19, according to the data collected. Three more hours. On the other hand, women have already started from a different situation, carrying a much greater burden, which has been slightly reduced: they go from 33 hours a week to 30.

Looking at housework alone, the study suggests that both are spending an hour more on this than before the pandemic. Of course, again, the main burden falls on women: men moved from eight to nine hours, and women from 12 to 13. This means that the greater responsibility-taking shown by men in the study is very much directed towards caring for boys. And girls, not so much house cleaning or maintenance.

In general, the situation remains very uneven. Adding time for caregiving and housework, women continue to use an average of 15 hours a week: men 28, women 43. Women spend 62% of the day and men 43%, the study found. “Commitment to paid work is still higher for women, but we observed a significant increase in child care by men, which is related to what happened during incarceration,” says Lydia Fare, who led the investigation with Libertad Gonzalez. .

So both economists had already analyzed the distribution of tasks at home and concluded that men were busy more than before (among other things, because they went shopping more often), but that the gender gap was exacerbated by the growing demands of family responsibilities. Educational centers were closed. This is because while men have gone from 24 hours a week to 34 paid jobs, women have gone from 45 to 57 at a time when work outside the home has not declined by an equivalent proportion.

Men reduced it by 14 hours (from 37 to 23), and women by 11 hours (from 25 to 14). The study calculated how many hours they worked in total (both paid and unpaid work added) to find that for men it decreased by four hours, while for women it increased by one. In other words, women began working an average of 14 more hours during incarceration than men in a broad sense, compared to nine before the pandemic, as shown in the following graph:

And what happened now? According to Fare and Gonzalez’s balance, two years after the virus spread, the data shows a map in which women continue to spend more time and both have reduced hours spent incarcerated, but in which men continue to participate. on their sons and daughters for another three hours. With the paid work that has happened, it has returned to pre-pandemic levels (men putting in one hour less and women one hour more), so now there is a total of five hours that women use to work outside the home and inside the home. Respecting the time spent by men.

A fundamental explanation offered by the study is that this lingering effect of greater male involvement with their sons and daughters occurs because incarceration may represent a paternity leave-like experience for some men. “Several studies have shown that fathers’ participation in childcare increases not only at the time, but years after,” explains Fare, who thinks childbirth can be “an extended paternity leave for some men.”

“It was a kind of natural experiment that brought an unprecedented increase in homework to us at home. This time had to be managed, so there were probably men who realized how expensive it was and certainly habits would change, especially for those who were unemployed or on ERTE. They were forced because there was no escape, and they probably realized logistics that they hadn’t realized before. This was an unprecedented situation, and it seems that this effect may last over time,” adds the economist.

Although this is the element that has the greatest weight in the interpretation of the results, the study does not ignore other factors, such as remote work or the compaction of the working day, two changes that the labor market has undergone since COVID-19. Data collected from surveys indicate that teleworking has decreased significantly, but still 33% of women and 30% of men telework at least one day, 14% of them and 17% of them at least three days. Men with children who work after 5:00 pm also decreased by 9% and by 6% for women.

Graphics made by Victoria Oliveres and Ana Ordaz.

Source: El Diario





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