What Familydemic is?
Familydemic is a collaborative international project and a network of researchers. Its goal is to advance the theoretical explanations, methods and empirical foundations for studying the diverse immediate and long-term consequences of policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak for the distribution of paid and unpaid work in couples and their labour market and family outcomes in diverse welfare regime contexts. The project and the network is coordinated by Prof. Anna Kurowska from the University of Warsaw. The cooperating countries are: Canada, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden and the US.
Since the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic a large number of families have been directly impacted by the spread of the SARS-coV-2 as the family members got infected, became sick, hospitalized and some of them died. But in addition to the direct health effects, an even larger number of families has been affected indirectly by the pandemic, as most countries around the globe have implemented far reaching social (physical) distancing and confinement policies, such as country lockdowns, school, childcare and workplace closures, restrictions to movement of people, cancellation of mass gatherings, closing of parks, forests and other public spaces, limiting access to shops and services.
The main focus
is on working parents with dependants, who were severely affected by the pandemic through school and childcare closures as well as disturbances to working arrangements. It is for the first time in modern history that partners who already had adopted a certain division of paid and unpaid work unexpectedly had to rearrange it because of the sudden immense increase in childcare responsibilities caused by kindergarten and school closures.
At the same time, home-based work became suddenly available for many workers. Overall, these new circumstances create an extraordinary situation which may lead to either exacerbation of gender inequalities in the division of paid and unpaid labour or to more equal division.
At the beginning of the XXI century, we still observe persistence of an unequal division of unpaid work among working parents that may have numerous negative social consequences. It creates a major barrier to women’s work careers leading to persistently lower incomes of women versus men and eventually female poverty at old age. It also results in loss of human resources, strong work-family tensions for women, low fertility intentions and marital conflict.
Examining the changes to the gender division of labour due to COVID-19 outbreak policies and their underlying mechanisms is thus fundamental for the comprehensive understanding of the effect the current pandemic had on societies.
In our project we pay particular attention to:
the mechanisms underlying the changes in gender division of labour in families;
the moderating role of the cultural and economic context for these changes and their effects on labour market outcomes of men and women;
the role of the design of social distancing and confinement policies and the accompanying “cushioning” policies introduced in response to the pandemic for partners’ involvement in paid work and their labour market outcomes.
The coordination of the entire project, the work of the Polish team and realization of the Familydemic Survey in Poland is financed by the Polish National Science Centre, grant no. 2020/37/B/HS5/02703 (Principal investigator: dr hab. Anna Kurowska, prof. UW).
The project is carried out in the Faculty of Political Science and International Studies, Department of Policy Research Methodology, at the University of Warsaw, Poland in cooperation with the Interdisciplinary Center for Labour Market and Family Dynamics (LABFAM).