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Who is Doing the Chores and Childcare in Dual-earner Couples during the COVID-19 Era of Working from Home?


In 2020–21, parents’ work-from-home days increased three-and-a-half-fold following the initial COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns compared to 2015–19. At the same time, many schools offered virtual classrooms and daycares closed, increasing the demand for household-provided childcare. Using time diaries from American Time Use Survey and looking at parents in dual-earner couples, we examine parents’ weekday workday time allocated to paid work, chores, and childcare in the COVID-19 era by the couple’s joint work location arrangements. We determine the work location of the respondent directly from their diary and predict the partner’s work-from-home status. Parents working from home alone spent more time on childcare compared to their counterparts working on-site, though only mothers worked fewer paid hours. When both parents worked from home compared to on-site, mothers and fathers maintained their paid hours and spent more time on childcare, though having a partner also working from home reduced child supervision time. On the average day, parents working from home did equally more household chores, regardless of their partner’s work-from-home status; however, on the average school day, only fathers working from home alone increased their household chores compared to their counterparts working on-site. We also find that mothers combined paid work and child supervision to a greater extent than did fathers.