OECD report shows impact of Covid on working mums

A new report from the OECD shows women’s work was adversely affected by childcare issues during Covid, even when they were working and dads were not working.

Mother working whilst looking after baby son


Working mums were hardest hit by Covid-19 when it came to the brunt of additional unpaid care work and the negative impact this had on their position in the workforce, according to an OECD study of 25 countries.

Caregiving in crisis: Gender inequality in paid and unpaid work during COVID-19 shows that when schools and childcare facilities closed, mothers were nearly three times as likely as fathers to report that they took on most or all of additional unpaid care work related to school or childcare facility closures: 61.5% of mothers of children under age 12 say they took on the majority or entirety of the extra care work, while 22.4% of fathers report that they did. Fathers also agreed that mothers did more.

The analysis, described as the first cross-national stocktaking of unpaid work and labour force outcomes by parenthood status using nationally-representative surveys, including from the UK, also found that mothers of children under age 12 were on average the group most likely to move from employed to not employed status between the end of 2019 and autumn 2020.

Gender gaps in unpaid care were largest, on average, when the father continued to be employed while the mother was not. However, if dads were out of paid work and mums were in paid work there was no corresponding reduction in inequality in unpaid work conditions.

However, public support did have an impact on gender inequality at home. Countries that were able to limit the number of days schools were closed tended to have smaller gender gaps in unpaid work. Moreover, countries with historically higher levels of spending on family support also experienced lower levels of inequality in unpaid work when Covid struck.

*The report can be found here.

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