Intelligent lockdown, intelligent effects? The impact of the Dutch COVID-19 ‘intelligent lockdown’ on gendered work and family dynamics among parents

from Health Economics at on August 31, 2020 at 10:47AM

This study examines the impact of the Dutch ‘intelligent lockdown’ during the COVID-19 pandemic on work and family dynamics among parents. This ‘intelligent lockdown’ relied on a combination of restrictive measures and an emphasis on individual responsibility as a means of lessening the spread and health impact of the pandemic. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a public health crisis. Lockdown measures had substantial societal effects, including a significant impact on parents with (young) children. Given gender inequality existent prior to the pandemic, the question arises to what extent the consequences of the lockdown varied for mothers and fathers. Using representative survey data gathered among Dutch parents in April 2020, we explore changes in three areas: paid work, the division of care and household work, and quality of life (leisure, work-life balance, relationship dynamics). Our linear probability and multinomial logistic models demonstrate that the way in which families were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic reflects a complex gendered reality. We find that gender inequality patterns in the division of paid work, care work, and housework continue to exist. Moreover, the unique situation created by restrictive lockdown measures magnified some inequalities while others were lessened. We find evidence of increased gender inequality in relation to paid work and quality of life, yet a decrease in gender inequality in the division of care and household tasks. During the lockdown, Dutch fathers reported doing more care and household tasks than before. The insights provided here offer key comparative references for understanding the broader impact of lockdown measures on work and family dynamics, as well as quality of life as we move forward in the COVID-19 pandemic.