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Lockdown risks an increase in gender wage gap

Mothers are 23 percent more likely than fathers to have lost their jobs during the current crisis, new research finds.

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Mothers are 14 percent more likely than fathers to have been furloughed
Mothers are 14 percent more likely than fathers to have been furloughed

The study, carried out by UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, explored how 3,500 families with two opposite-gender parents are sharing paid work and domestic responsibilities.

 

The research found that since February, mothers are more likely than fathers to have either left paid work or had a bigger proportion of their hours reduced.

 

It also found that among those doing paid work at home, mothers are more likely than fathers to be spending their work hours simultaneously trying to care for children.

 

The research team said that the combined effect of this, is that in lockdown mothers in two-parent households are only doing, on average, a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours of fathers.

 

Before lockdown, mothers did around 60 percent of the uninterrupted work hours of fathers. The team said this sharp reduction in the time that mothers are spending dedicated to paid work risks lasting harm to their careers when the lockdown is lifted.

 

Of those who were in paid work prior to the lockdown, mothers are 47 percent more likely than fathers to have permanently lost their job or quit, and they are 14 percent more likely to have been furloughed. In all, among those working in February 2020, mothers are now nine percentage points less likely to still be in paid work than fathers.

 

The study found that in families where the father has lost his job while the mother kept hers, men and women still split housework and childcare responsibilities fairly equally. In all other types of households, mothers spend substantially more time on domestic responsibilities.

 

Alison Andrew, a senior research economist at IFS, said: "Mothers are more likely than fathers to have moved out of paid work since the start of lockdown. They have reduced their working hours more than fathers even if they are still working and they experience more interruptions while they work from home than fathers, particularly due to caring for children.

 

“Together these factors mean that mothers now are only doing a third of the uninterrupted paid-work hours that fathers are. A risk is that the lockdown leads to a further increase in the gender wage gap.”

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