Women’s well being has been more affected than men’s during the pandemic, with women doing most of the housework and childcare.
Men in England and Wales were 18% more likely to die from Covid-19 than women, but women’s wellbeing was more negatively affected than men’s during the first year of the pandemic, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The ONS report says women were more likely to be furloughed throughout the pandemic and to spend significantly less time working from home and more time on unpaid childcare or housework.
While the numbers of women and men on furlough have fluctuated, women have been consistently more likely to be furloughed – in July 2.9m women were on furlough compared to 2.7m men. At the end of December just over 1.9m women were furloughed, compared to just under 1.9m men.
While both men and women spent more time working from home throughout the pandemic, women did more unpaid housework than men, spending 64% more time on housework in September and October [although, compared to 2014/2015 they did significantly less]. Men increased the time they spent on housework between 2014 and early 2020, but only by 13 minutes a day, but reduced that amount by September/October so they were doing five minutes less housework a day than when the pandemic started.
At the beginning of the UK’s first lockdown in March 2020, women spent 55% more time than men on unpaid childcare. However, this difference is smaller than in September and October 2020, when women spent 99% more time on unpaid childcare than men. The ONS says 67% of women homeschooled a child in early 2021, compared to only 52% of men.
The impact on women’s wellbeing is marked. In April and early May 2020, around one in three women (34%) reported that their wellbeing was negatively affected by homeschooling a school age child compared with only one in five men (20%). By late January and early February 2021, that number had gone up to 53% for women and 45% for men.
Women also reported significantly higher anxiety than men at almost every point between 20 March 2020 and 7 February 2021, continuing the pre-pandemic trend, while men were more likely to say they were not at all worried about the pandemic.