Gender Differences in Reduced Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic – the Role of Working Conditions

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had very different impacts on the employment and family work con-ditions of men and women. Thus, it might have jeopardised the slow and hard-won reduction of gender inequalities in the division of labour achieved in recent decades. Using data from the Na-tional Educational Panel Study (NEPS) and its supplementary COVID-19 web survey for Germany, we investigate the relationship between working conditions and gender differences in subjective well-being during the first months of the pandemic. Therefore, we systematically consider the household context by distinguishing between adults with and without young children. The results from multivariate regression models accounting for pre-corona satisfaction reveal a decline in all respondents’ life satisfaction, particularly among women and mothers with young children. How-ever, the greater reduction in women’s well-being cannot be linked to systematic differences in working conditions throughout the pandemic. Kitagawa-Oaxaca-Blinder counterfactual decom-positions confirm this conclusion. However, further robustness checks suggest that women’s so-cietal concerns and greater loneliness partly explain the remaining gender differences during the first months of the crisis. From a general perspective, our results suggest important gender differ-ences in social life and psychological distress in spring 2020, which are likely to become more pro-nounced as the crisis unfolds.

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