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Cracking under Pressure? Gender Role Attitudes toward Maternal Employment during COVID-19

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Cracking under Pressure? Gender Role Attitudes toward Maternal Employment during COVID-19

By Mathias Huebener, Astrid Hape, Natalia Danzer, C. Katharina Spiess, Nico A. Siegel, Gert G. Wagner

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly affected labour market outcomes of men and women, and the restricted operation of daycare facilities and schools disrupted the infrastructure that typically allows working parents to reconcile work and family life. This paper analyses to what extent the pandemic changed gender role attitudes toward maternal employment. Using German data from 2008 through spring 2022, they use before-and-after comparisons and individual fixed effects models to trace changes in gender role attitudes throughout the first two years of the pandemic. They document a significant drop in egalitarian attitudes until spring 2021—when the operation of daycare facilities and schools was severely disrupted—especially for fathers of dependent children. This drop is followed by a significant recovery until spring 2022, a period in which daycare and schools operated almost regularly. Their findings suggest that pandemic-related changes in gender role attitudes toward maternal employment are mostly transitory.