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Why Is Mommy So Stressed? Estimating the Immediate Impact of the COVID-19 Shock on Parental Attachment to the Labor Market and the Double Bind of Mothers

Institute Working Paper 33 | Revised October 26, 2020

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Why Is Mommy So Stressed? Estimating the Immediate Impact of the COVID-19 Shock on Parental Attachment to the Labor Market and the Double Bind of Mothers

Abstract

I examine the impact of the COVID-19 shock on parents' labor supply during the initial stages of the pandemic. Using difference-in-difference estimation and monthly panel data from the Current Population Survey (CPS), I compare labor market attachment, non-work activity, hours worked, and earnings and wages of those in areas with early school closures and stay-in-place orders with those in areas with delayed or no pandemic closures. While there was no immediate impact on detachment or unemployment, mothers with jobs in early closure states were 53.2 percent more likely than mothers in late closure states to have a job but not be working as a result of early shutdowns. There was no effect on working fathers or working women without school age children. Of mothers who continued working, those in early closure states worked more weekly hours than mothers in late closure states; fathers reduced their hours. The increase in hours worked of mothers is entirely driven by mothers living with spouses who were not working. Overall, the pandemic appears to have induced a unique immediate juggling act for working mothers of school age children.


Published in the _Review of Economics of the Household_ under the title "Estimating the Immediate Impact of the COVID-19 Shock on Parental Attachment to the Labor Market and the Double Bind of Mothers" (October 2020), https://doi.org/10.1007/s11150-020-09514-x.