State Secretary receives research into unequal division of household and care tasks during COVID

Kaft "Ongelijk Nederland", preadviezen 2021 Koninklijke Vereniging voor de Staathuishoudkunde

The Preadvice 2021 of the Dutch Koninklijke Vereniging voor de Staathuishoudkunde, entitled “The Unequal Netherlands”, includes a contribution about the division of household and care tasks in the Netherlands during the corona pandemic. Chantal Remery, from the Utrecht University School of Economics, is one of the authors of this article. During an online meeting on 29 November, the bundle was presented to  Dennis Wiersma, State Secretary of Social Affairs and Employment. Chantal Remery was one of the invitees to present the research at this meeting.

Many of the measures taken to fight the pandemic, such as closing schools and childcare facilities and urging people to work from home as much as possible, have had a major impact on households. The COGIS-NL study, led by Mara Yerkes of Utrecht University, investigated what happened during the first months of the pandemic (April to November 2020) with the division of household and care tasks.

Influence of working from home

Most households in the Netherlands have a traditional division of work, with women performing the majority of the household chores. In about 30% of the households, the tasks are more or less equally distributed, while the proportion of households in which the tasks are divided counter-traditionally, i.e. the man does most of the household and care tasks, is small. In the early months of the pandemic, this changed; the share of traditional households decreased while the share of egalitarian households increased.

Working from home during the corona pandemic has stimulated some fathers to take on more care tasks. But that change doesn't seem permanent; as the pandemic continued, many households appeared to fall back on 'the old normal'. In November 2020, the share of traditional households was approximately the same as before the pandemic.

Emancipation requires an integrated policy approach

The researchers conclude that the corona pandemic - over time - has not led to an increase in inequality between men and women, but also is not a step forward in terms of emancipation. The traditional division of roles between men and women is persistent. Promoting emancipation requires an integrated policy approach, say the researchers. Insights from the COGIS-NL study provide valuable starting points. For example, fathers could benefit from a permanent right to work from home and flexible working hours. 

Current economic topic

The articleDe coronapandemie en de verdeling van huishoudelijke en zorgtaken in Nederland is part of the so called Preadviezen 2021 of the Koninklijke Vereniging voor de Staathuishoudkunde.The editors of this bundle are professors Anne Gielen, Dinand Webbink en Bas ter Weel. The article is published in the journal Economisch Statistische Berichten (ESB). The authors are: Chantal Remery (UU), Stéfanie André (RUN), Janna Besamusca (UU), Mara Yerkes (UU), Bryn Hummel (Amsterdam UMC) en Roos van der Zwan (NIDI).

Every year in November, the association publishes de Preadviezen, a collection of contributions from experts from science and practice on a current economic topic. In this case it was inequality in the Netherlands. The collection is called in full: The Unequal Netherlands - a triptych about migration, education and the corona crisis. At the meeting, all those present, including the State Secretary, also reflected on the findings.

About Staathuishoudkunde

The royal Koninklijke Vereniging voor de Staathuishoudkunde was founded in 1849, making it the oldest association of economists in the world. The aim of the Association is to promote and sharpen economic knowledge by organizing intensive exchanges of views between members, by publishing publications and by promoting contacts with colleagues.