Gendered Time Use Patterns during the COVID-19 Lockdown: Evidence from Longitudinal Data in Singapore
56 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021
Date Written: March 22, 2021
Widespread shifts to telecommuting, school closures, and job losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have affected gendered time use patterns globally. Major gaps in the literature are the lack of longitudinal data to compare time use before and during the pandemic, and the lack of studies examining mechanisms through which the pandemic affects gendered time use patterns. This study uses a panel dataset of 290 pairs of married parents interviewed before, during, and after the COVID-19 lockdown in the Asian city state of Singapore, and examines gender inequalities in time spent on paid labor market work, housework, childcare, and total time use on the three activities. Gender gaps in housework and total time use increased during and persisted after the lockdown, even as the negative gender gap in paid market work hours narrowed. The gap in time spent caring for children expanded among households with fewer resources but decreased among households with more resources. We investigate three mechanisms through which the pandemic may have affected time use: 1) time availability, 2) relative resources, and 3) gender norms. Our results highlight the critical role that gender norms play in putting women into a vulnerable position when a pandemic strikes, especially among less-resourced households.
Keywords: COVID-19, time use, telecommuting, gender, inequality
JEL Classification: J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation