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Socioeconomic differences and the gender division of labor during the COVID‐19 lockdown: Insights from France using a mixed method

  • Chatot, Myriam
  • Landour, Julie
  • Pailhé, Ariane
  • team, epicov
Publication Date
Jul 01, 2023
DOI: 10.1111/gwao.12980
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The sudden and unanticipated shocks to employment and the almost total retreat into the domestic sphere caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns provide a unique opportunity to explore the resilience of the three classical theoretical paradigms of the gendered division of labor within couples, that is, the time availability theory, the relative resource theory, and the “doing gender” perspective. Accordingly, this article analyzes how socioeconomic differences shaped the gendered division of labor during the first lockdown in France. We use a mixed-methods approach that combines representative quantitative data drawn from the Epidemiology and Living Conditions (EpiCOV) survey of EpiCOV in France during the COVID-19 pandemic and qualitative data from in-depth interviews of French families collected throughout the spring 2020 lockdown. Over the period, the heavy domestic and parental workload and its division between partners were mainly determined by employment status. However, the influence of time availability on the division of labor was mitigated by the doing gender mechanisms, whatever the partners' relative resources. The gender division of housework and childcare persisted, and the tasks performed differed, parenting tasks especially. Even if highly-educated mothers were able to negotiate their partner's investment in domestic and parental work, the division of labor remained unequal. Mothers remained in charge of organizing housework and childcare, and this may have altered their subjective experience of lockdown, especially for those embedded in the most egalitarian configurations.

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