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Couples’ changing work patterns in the United Kingdom and the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>16/03/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Gender, Work and Organization
Number of pages31
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date16/03/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Going beyond a focus on individual‐level employment outcomes, we investigate couples’ changing work patterns in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) during the COVID‐19 pandemic. Analyzing longitudinal panels of 2,186 couples from the Understanding Society COVID‐19 Survey (UK) and 2,718 couples from the Current Population Survey (US), we assess whether the pandemic has elevated the importance of human capital vis‐à‐vis traditional gender specialization in shaping couples’ work patterns. The UK witnessed a notable increase in sole‐worker families with the better‐educated partner working, irrespective of gender. The impact of the pandemic was similar but weaker in the US. In both countries, couples at the bottom 25% of the pre‐pandemic family income distribution experienced the greatest increase in neither partner working but the least growth in sole‐worker arrangements. Through a couple‐level analysis of changing employment patterns, this study highlights the importance of human capital in shaping couples’ paid‐work organization during the pandemic, and it reveals the socioeconomic gradient in such organization.