Impacts of the COVID-19 Lockdown on Gender Inequalities in Time Spent on Paid and Unpaid Work in Singapore
57 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 25 Feb 2022
Date Written: March 22, 2021
Objective: To examine the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on gender inequalities in time spent on paid labor market work, housework, and childcare in Singapore.
Background: Widespread shifts to remote work, school closures, and job losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have affected gender inequalities in time spent on paid and unpaid work globally. Major gaps in the literature include a lack of longitudinal data to compare time use before and during the pandemic, a lack of examination of how gender and family resources intersect to create inequalities in time use during the pandemic, and a lack of focus on potential mechanisms through which the pandemic affects time use patterns across genders.
Method: We use a panel dataset of 290 married women interviewed before, during, and after the COVID-19 lockdown, and apply between-within models to examine changes in gender gaps in time use (defined as females’ time use minus males’ in this study).
Results: Gender gaps in housework hours increased during and persisted after the lockdown, even as the negative gender gap in paid work hours narrowed. The gap in childcare hours expanded among households with fewer resources but decreased among households with more resources. We also find that gender ideologies and resources may have both played important roles in how the pandemic affects gender inequalities in time use.
Conclusion: Our results highlight that gender and resources can interact, putting women in a vulnerable position when a pandemic strikes, especially among less-resourced households.
Keywords: COVID-19, time use, telecommuting, gender, inequality
JEL Classification: J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation