The Division of Domestic Labour Before & During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Canada: Stagnation vs. Shifts in Fathers’ Contributions

Kevin Shafer, Brigham Young University and McMaster, Casey Schiebling, University of Toronto, and Melissa Milkie, University of Toronto

Kevin Shafer

The COVID‐19 pandemic created rapid, wide‐ranging, and significant disruptions to work and family life. Accordingly, these dramatic changes may have reshaped parents’ gendered division of labor in the short term. Using data from 1,234 Canadian parents in different‐sex relationships, we compare retrospective reports of perceived sharing in how housework and childcare tasks were split prior to the declaration of the pandemic to assessments of equality afterward. Further, we describe perceptions of changes in fathers’ engagement in these tasks overall, by respondent gender, and by employment arrangements before and during the pandemic. Results indicate small shifts toward a more equal division of labor in the early “lockdown” months, with increased participation in housework and childcare by fathers, supporting the needs exposure hypothesis. We conclude by discussing gender differences in parents’ reports and potential implications for longer term gender equality.

Publication:  Canadian Review of Sociology. Volume57, Issue4, November 2020. Pages 523-549

Co-investigators: Kevin Shafer, Brigham Young University; Casey Scheibling, University of Toronto

Research Status: Research published/presented

Contact: Melissa Milkie

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