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  1. Jacobs, Jerry (Ed.)

    During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work became the new reality for many fathers. Though time availability theory suggests that this newfound flexibility should lead to more domestic labor on the part of fathers, many were skeptical that fathers would step up to shoulder the load at home. Indeed, the findings are decidedly mixed on the association of fathers’ remote work with their performance of housework and childcare. Nonetheless, research has yet to consider how contextual factors, such as fathers’ gender ideologies and mothers’ employment, may condition these associations. Using data from Wave 1 of the Study on U.S. Parents’ Divisions of Labor During COVID-19 (SPDLC), we examine how gender ideology moderates the association between fathers’ remote work and their performance and share of childcare during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in both sole-earner and dual-earner families. The results show, for sole-earning fathers and dual-earner fathers with egalitarian gender attitudes, that the frequency of remote work was positively associated with fathers performing more, and a greater share of, childcare during the pandemic. Yet, only dual-earner fathers with egalitarian gender attitudes performed an equal share of childcare in their families. These findings suggest that the pandemic provided structural opportunities for fathers, particularly egalitarian-minded fathers, to be the equally engaged parents they desired.

     
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2025
  2. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered family life in the United States. Over the long duration of the pandemic, parents had to adapt to shifting work conditions, virtual schooling, the closure of daycare facilities, and the stress of not only managing households without domestic and care supports but also worrying that family members may contract the novel coronavirus. Reports early in the pandemic suggest that these burdens have fallen disproportionately on mothers, creating concerns about the long-term implications of the pandemic for gender inequality and mothers’ well-being. Nevertheless, less is known about how parents’ engagement in domestic labor and paid work has changed throughout the pandemic and beyond, what factors may be driving these changes, and what the long-term consequences of the pandemic may be for the gendered division of labor and gender inequality more generally. The Study on U.S. Parents’ Divisions of Labor During COVID-19 (SPDLC) collects longitudinal survey data from partnered U.S. parents that can be used to assess changes in parents’ divisions of domestic labor, divisions of paid labor, and well-being throughout and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of SPDLC is to understand both the short-and long-term impacts of the pandemic for the gendered division of labor, work-family issues, and broader patterns of gender inequality. Survey data for this study is collected using Prolifc (www.prolific.co), an opt-in online platform designed to facilitate scientific research. The sample is comprised U.S. adults who were residing with a romantic partner and at least one biological child (at the time of entry into the study). In each survey, parents answer questions about both themselves and their partners. Wave 1 of the SPDLC was conducted in April 2020, and parents who participated in Wave 1 were asked about their division of labor both prior to (i.e., early March 2020) and one month after the pandemic began. Wave 2 of the SPDLC was collected in November 2020. Parents who participated in Wave 1 were invited to participate again in Wave 2, and a new cohort of parents was also recruited to participate in the Wave 2 survey. Wave 3 of SPDLC was collected in October 2021. Parents who participated in either of the first two waves were invited to participate again in Wave 3, and another new cohort of parents was also recruited to participate in the Wave 3 survey. Wave 4 of the SPDLC was collected in October 2022. Parents who participated in either of the first three waves were invited to participate again in Wave 4, and another new cohort of parents was also recruited to participate in the Wave 4 survey. This research design (follow-up survey of panelists and new cross-section of parents at each wave) will continue through 2024, culminating in six waves of data spanning the period from March 2020 through October 2024. An estimated total of approximately 6,500 parents will be surveyed at least once throughout the duration of the study. SPDLC data will be released to the public two years after data is collected; Waves 1-3 are currently publicly available. Wave 4 will be publicly available in October 2024, with subsequent waves becoming available yearly. Data will be available to download in both SPSS (.sav) and Stata (.dta) formats, and the following data files will be available: (1) a data file for each individual wave, which contains responses from all participants in that wave of data collection, (2) a longitudinal panel data file, which contains longitudinal follow-up data from all available waves, and (3) a repeated cross-section data file, which contains the repeated cross-section data (from new respondents at each wave) from all available waves. Codebooks for each survey wave and a detailed user guide describing the data are also available. 
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  3. Rising domestic burdens for mothers fueled concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated gender inequalities in well-being. Yet, survey research has not considered whether and how cognitive labor—planning, organizing, and monitoring family needs—contributed to gendered health disparities during the pandemic. Using data from the Study on U.S. Parents’ Divisions of Labor during COVID-19 (SPDLC) and a stress process perspective, we examine the association between cognitive labor and parents’ psychological well-being, and whether this association (1) differs between mothers and fathers and (2) is moderated by employment status and telecommuting. Mothers performed more cognitive labor during the pandemic than fathers, and cognitive labor was negatively associated with mothers’ psychological well-being—particularly for mothers who never or exclusively telecommuted. Mothers’ psychological well-being was higher when fathers did more cognitive labor, especially among mothers who worked outside the home. Overall, cognitive labor appears to be another stressor that contributed to increased gender inequality.

     
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  4. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered family life in the United States. Over the long duration of the pandemic, parents had to adapt to shifting work conditions, virtual schooling, the closure of daycare facilities, and the stress of not only managing households without domestic and care supports but also worrying that family members may contract the novel coronavirus. Reports early in the pandemic suggest that these burdens have fallen disproportionately on mothers, creating concerns about the long-term implications of the pandemic for gender inequality and mothers’ well-being. Nevertheless, less is known about how parents’ engagement in domestic labor and paid work has changed throughout the pandemic, what factors may be driving these changes, and what the long-term consequences of the pandemic may be for the gendered division of labor and gender inequality more generally.

    The Study on U.S. Parents’ Divisions of Labor During COVID-19 (SPDLC) collects longitudinal survey data from partnered U.S. parents that can be used to assess changes in parents’ divisions of domestic labor, divisions of paid labor, and well-being throughout and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of SPDLC is to understand both the short- and long-term impacts of the pandemic for the gendered division of labor, work-family issues, and broader patterns of gender inequality.

    Survey data for this study is collected using Prolifc (www.prolific.co), an opt-in online platform designed to facilitate scientific research. The sample is comprised U.S. adults who were residing with a romantic partner and at least one biological child (at the time of entry into the study). In each survey, parents answer questions about both themselves and their partners. Wave 1 of SPDLC was conducted in April 2020, and parents who participated in Wave 1 were asked about their division of labor both prior to (i.e., early March 2020) and one month after the pandemic began. Wave 2 of SPDLC was collected in November 2020. Parents who participated in Wave 1 were invited to participate again in Wave 2, and a new cohort of parents was also recruited to participate in the Wave 2 survey. Wave 3 of SPDLC was collected in October 2021. Parents who participated in either of the first two waves were invited to participate again in Wave 3, and another new cohort of parents was also recruited to participate in the Wave 3 survey. This research design (follow-up survey of panelists and new cross-section of parents at each wave) will continue through 2024, culminating in six waves of data spanning the period from March 2020 through October 2024. An estimated total of approximately 6,500 parents will be surveyed at least once throughout the duration of the study.

    SPDLC data will be released to the public two years after data is collected; Waves 1 and 2 are currently publicly available. Wave 3 will be publicly available in October 2023, with subsequent waves becoming available yearly. Data will be available to download in both SPSS (.sav) and Stata (.dta) formats, and the following data files will be available: (1) a data file for each individual wave, which contains responses from all participants in that wave of data collection, (2) a longitudinal panel data file, which contains longitudinal follow-up data from all available waves, and (3) a repeated cross-section data file, which contains the repeated cross-section data (from new respondents at each wave) from all available waves. Codebooks for each survey wave and a detailed user guide describing the data are also available. Response Rates: Of the 1,157 parents who participated in Wave 1, 828 (72%) also participated in the Wave 2 study. Presence of Common Scales: The following established scales are included in the survey:
    • Self-Efficacy, adapted from Pearlin's mastery scale (Pearlin et al., 1981) and the Rosenberg self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 2015) and taken from the American Changing Lives Survey
    • Communication with Partner, taken from the Marriage and Relationship Survey (Lichter & Carmalt, 2009)
    • Gender Attitudes, taken from the National Survey of Families and Households (Sweet & Bumpass, 1996)
    • Depressive Symptoms (CES-D-10)
    • Stress, measured using Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983)
    Full details about these scales and all other items included in the survey can be found in the user guide and codebook
    The second wave of the SPDLC was fielded in November 2020 in two stages. In the first stage, all parents who participated in W1 of the SPDLC and who continued to reside in the United States were re-contacted and asked to participate in a follow-up survey. The W2 survey was posted on Prolific, and messages were sent via Prolific’s messaging system to all previous participants. Multiple follow-up messages were sent in an attempt to increase response rates to the follow-up survey. Of the 1,157 respondents who completed the W1 survey, 873 at least started the W2 survey. Data quality checks were employed in line with best practices for online surveys (e.g., removing respondents who did not complete most of the survey or who did not pass the attention filters). After data quality checks, 5.2% of respondents were removed from the sample, resulting in a final sample size of 828 parents (a response rate of 72%).

    In the second stage, a new sample of parents was recruited. New parents had to meet the same sampling criteria as in W1 (be at least 18 years old, reside in the United States, reside with a romantic partner, and be a parent living with at least one biological child). Also similar to the W1 procedures, we oversampled men, Black individuals, individuals who did not complete college, and individuals who identified as politically conservative to increase sample diversity. A total of 1,207 parents participated in the W2 survey. Data quality checks led to the removal of 5.7% of the respondents, resulting in a final sample size of new respondents at Wave 2 of 1,138 parents.

    In both stages, participants were informed that the survey would take approximately 20 minutes to complete. All panelists were provided monetary compensation in line with Prolific’s compensation guidelines, which require that all participants earn above minimum wage for their time participating in studies.
    To be included in SPDLC, respondents had to meet the following sampling criteria at the time they enter the study: (a) be at least 18 years old, (b) reside in the United States, (c) reside with a romantic partner (i.e., be married or cohabiting), and (d) be a parent living with at least one biological child. Follow-up respondents must be at least 18 years old and reside in the United States, but may experience changes in relationship and resident parent statuses. Smallest Geographic Unit: U.S. State

    This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. In accordance with this license, all users of these data must give appropriate credit to the authors in any papers, presentations, books, or other works that use the data. A suggested citation to provide attribution for these data is included below:            

    Carlson, Daniel L. and Richard J. Petts. 2022. Study on U.S. Parents’ Divisions of Labor During COVID-19 User Guide: Waves 1-2.  

    To help provide estimates that are more representative of U.S. partnered parents, the SPDLC includes sampling weights. Weights can be included in statistical analyses to make estimates from the SPDLC sample representative of U.S. parents who reside with a romantic partner (married or cohabiting) and a child aged 18 or younger based on age, race/ethnicity, and gender. National estimates for the age, racial/ethnic, and gender profile of U.S. partnered parents were obtained using data from the 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS). Weights were calculated using an iterative raking method, such that the full sample in each data file matches the nationally representative CPS data in regard to the gender, age, and racial/ethnic distributions within the data. This variable is labeled CPSweightW2 in the Wave 2 dataset, and CPSweightLW2 in the longitudinal dataset (which includes Waves 1 and 2). There is not a weight variable included in the W1-W2 repeated cross-section data file.
     
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  5. Shutdowns of in-person school and childcare in spring 2020 in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic were associated with substantial reductions in mothers’ labor force participation (LFP). By fall 2020, in-person school and daycare were more widely available, but mothers’ LFP remained as low as it was in spring. Coincidently, by fall 2020, daily COVID deaths had also began to peak. Using unique panel survey data from partnered U.S. mothers ( n = 263), the authors use structural equation modeling to analyze how mothers’ concerns over COVID shaped their LFP in fall 2020. Findings show that mothers’ COVID concerns were associated with reduced LFP via children’s time at home, perceived stress, and remote work. Concerned mothers were more likely to keep children home, but this resulted in less paid work likely vis-à-vis work-family conflicts. The findings illuminate one reason mothers’ LFP failed to rebound in fall 2020 despite increased access to in-person school and daycare. 
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