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Working from home and the division of childcare and housework among dual-earner parents during the pandemic in the UK

Chung, Heejung, Seo, Hyojin, Birkett, Holly, Forbes, Sarah (2022) Working from home and the division of childcare and housework among dual-earner parents during the pandemic in the UK. Merits, 2 (4). pp. 270-292. E-ISSN 2673-8104. (doi:10.3390/merits2040019) (KAR id:97401)


This paper examines whether the expansion of working from home led to a more equal division of domestic work during the pandemic. We use unique data of dual-earner heterosexual couples gathered during the first lockdown in the UK when workers were required to work from home by law. Results reveal that mothers were likely to be carrying out a larger share of domestic work both before and during the lockdown. When fathers worked from home, compared to those going into work, a more equitable division was found for cleaning and routine childcare. Furthermore, homeworking fathers were up to 3.5 times more likely to report that they increased the time they spent on childcare during the lockdown compared to before. However, we also found evidence of homeworking mothers having increased their time spent on domestic work, and doing a larger share of routine childcare, compared to mothers going into work. Overall, the study shows that when working from home is normalised through law and practice, it may better enable men to engage more in domestic work, which can in turn better support women’s labour market participation. However, without significant changes to our work cultures and gender norms, homeworking still has the potential to enable or maintain a traditional division of labour, further exacerbating gender inequality patterns both at home and in the labour market.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3390/merits2040019
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a CC BY public copyright licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising from this submission.
Uncontrolled keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; working from home; division of housework; childcare; gender inequality
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Women > HQ1236 Women and the state. Women's rights. Women's political activity
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (
Depositing User: Heejung Chung
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2022 15:29 UTC
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2023 16:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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