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No Lasting Increase in the Gender Care Gap in Germany after the Coronavirus Pandemic

DIW Weekly Report 9 / 2024, S. 75-82

Jonas Jessen, Lavinia Kinne, Katharina Wrohlich

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The gender care gap, i.e., the difference between the amount of unpaid care work—such as childcare and housework—performed between men and women is comparatively high in Germany: Women take on much more unpaid care work than men. This gap increases consistently when starting a family. At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, many feared that the gender care gap may grow even larger. In fact, empirical analyses show that gender differences in care work did increase in young families at the beginning of the pandemic, as primarily women took on the extra childcare work brought on by closures of daycare facilities and schools. However, using data from the family panel pairfam, this Weekly Report shows that the gender care gap has since returned to its—albeit still high—pre-pandemic level. If policymakers want to effectively combat gender inequalities on the labor market, they should focus more on the unequal division of care work and dismantle existing barriers preventing a more equal division. This could be done by, for example, increasing the period of parental leave earmarked to fathers, and reforming minijobs and Ehegattensplitting, i.e., the joint taxation of married couples with full income splitting.

Lavinia Kinne

Research Associate in the Gender Economics Department

Katharina Wrohlich

Head in the Gender Economics Department

JEL-Classification: D13;J16;J22
Keywords: gender, child care, families, division of care work, Covid-19, pairfam