More Research Shows Dads Stepping Up During the Pandemic

September 7, 2021 Christopher A. Brown


As the COVID-19 pandemic continues so too does research on its effects on parenting.

A new working paper from researchers at three universities documents a study on how the pandemic has affected the division of labor between moms—who already shoulder the bulk of that labor—and dads.

Using data from 1,025 different-sex parents, this study supports the findings of other studies I’ve reported on in this blog. Specifically, the researchers found that dads have stepped up during the pandemic to do more housework and childcare, thus creating a more balanced division of domestic labor in the home.

  • The proportion of parents that shared housework relatively equally increased from 26 percent pre-pandemic to 42 percent during the pandemic.
  • The proportion of parents that shared childcare relatively equally increased from 45 percent pre-pandemic to 56 percent during the pandemic.
  • Significantly more dads than moms increased their share of housework and childcare during the pandemic.

Moreover, the proportion of parents who reported having a “conventional” division* of:

  • Housework decreased from 64 percent pre-pandemic to 47 percent during the pandemic.
  • Childcare decreased from 50 percent pre-pandemic to 36 percent post-pandemic.

What drove dads to step up?

The reasons might not surprise you:

  • Increased unemployment
  • Reduced work hours
  • Telecommuting

These reasons combined to cause dads to spend more time at home. Dads were, quite simply, more available to engage in housework and childcare.

I encourage you to download and read the working paper. That’s because there’s more to these results than meets the eye. The analyses the researchers conducted include some uncovered nuances you might find fascinating.

What's changed with domestic labor during the pandemic among the dads you serve?

Does that change reflect the findings of this and other studies?

*A conventional division of labor, according to the researchers, refers to a man-as-earner/woman-as-homemaker family arrangement.

Learn more about the Father Engagement Academy by National Fatherhood Initiative

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