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Effects of flexible digitized working opportunities on informal care and housework

Completed Project


Public Economics

Project Management

Kai-Uwe Müller

Project Period

October 1 - December 20, 2019

Commissioned by

Institut für Sozialarbeit und Sozialpädagogik e.V. im Rahmen des Dritten Gleichstellungsberichts der Bundesregierung

In Cooperation With

Yvonne Lott, Hans-Böckler-Stiftung

Working from home can benefit work–family balance, but, due to the gendered meaning of flexibility, risks increasing the unequal allocation of unpaid care work in couples. Does working from home increase the within-couple gender care gap? To address this question, we use linear panel data models based on German Socio-Economic Panel data from 1997 to 2014. The results indicate that working from home leads on average to an increase in the time expended on care work by both men and women in couple households, but that this association is greater among women. When women used home-based working, the gender care gap increased by 1.2 percent-age points. Only within couples where the male partner (sometimes) worked from home and the female partner worked on-site did men invest more time in care work than compared to before having changed to this constellation. Moreover, home-based working increased the gender care gap especially for women with medium occupational status, whereas for women with high oc-cupational status, the gap decreased. In contrast, working from home increased the gender care gap especially among men in high professional positions. The results indicate that working from home is used by women primarily to balance work and family responsibilities, and that it may increase gender inequality. This is true especially for couples in which the female partner has a medium-level occupational position and the male partner a status high position.

DIW Team