Women did majority of childcare in UK lockdown, study finds

One in three mothers with school-aged children also reported poor mental health as a result of home-schooling

Olivia Petter
Thursday 23 July 2020 08:20 BST

Women did significantly more in terms of childcare during lockdown compared to men, new figures reveal.

According to a study from the Office for National Statistics, women in households with children under 18 carried out an average of more than three hours a day of childcare compared to just two hours for men.

The research also found that one in three women home-schooling their children in lockdown said their mental health had suffered as a result.

This was compared to 20 per cent of men saying the same.

The ONS survey was conducted based on interviews with 6,000 UK adults from April to June.

The research also shed light on how children were coping with being home-schooled, with 52 per cent of parents saying their children struggled with having their education conducted at home.

In its analysis, the ONS said that the reason for the difference between how much time men and women spent on childcare was mostly driven by extra time women spend carrying out non-developmental childcare duties, such as washing, feeding, and dressing children.

Women carried out 53 minutes of non-developmental childcare per day whereas men contributed 30 minutes, it found.

The time spent on developmental childcare, such as reading, was more balanced between the genders.

However, for children under five years of age, the ONS survey found that women did on average 78 per cent more childcare than men.

"This may be because younger children are likely to require more ‘nurturing’ (non-developmental) childcare, such as washing, feeding and cuddling," the ONS report states.

"This gender gap narrowed to just 20 per cent with children aged 5 to 10-years."

The ONS survey comes after a study released in May found that mothers were doing the bulk of housework and childcare in lockdown.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and University College London (UCL) interviewed 3,500 families and found that, on average, mothers would do more than fathers with the same work arrangements.

However, a separate study found that fathers have been doing 58 per cent more childcare in lockdown compared to regular life.

The survey of 1,300 families was conducted between 28 March and 26 April and also found that men’s weekly working hours (including their commute) has fallen by an average of 11 per cent in the same period of time.

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