In a recent unpublished Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis working paper (June 2020), Misty L. Heggeness investigated the impact the COVID-19 shock had on parents’ labor supply during the initial stages of the pandemic.

    One of the consequences of the shutdowns has been a functional collapse of the childcare industry, and this has placed an unbalanced burden on working mothers. This observation led Ms. Heggeness to ask the following questions: “Will mothers be able to keep their jobs as … they are continually forced to balance childcare, household production, online schooling, and work? … (and) what role (will) fathers (or their significant others, podmates, housemates, etc.) play in the intermediate and long term?” (p. 21}

    Given her questions, how do you see the domestic sphere and the formal labor market playing out over the next few years? What impact do you envision this pandemic having on gender wage equality, gender-based labor market participation rates, women’s’ rights, and mental health?

    Assuming grade schools remain closed this semester and possibly into next, do you expect to see fathers, significant others, and/or extended family members (including podmates, quarantined buddies, etc.) stepping up across the board and taking on substantially increased roles in sharing household production and childcare or are you less optimistic and expect to see little domestic change at the household level, or, even worse, a greater increase in domestic violence, pod disorder, and/or divorce filings?  According to Ms. Heggeness, she strongly believes what happens in the domestic sphere will influence what happens in the labor market for both men and women.

    Domestic responses to the abrupt changes we are now experiencing in the childcare industry have not and will not be uniform across households and demographic areas, but still which household trends do you think will likely dominate American society over the near term?  Search for some published data to support your opinion. Based on your opinion, can you think of anything we should be demanding from our government to promote the recovery of our childcare economy and to advance women’s rights as we continue to work through this pandemic and attempt to vaccinate the general public?

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