Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on support available to mothers in the UK and the USA

Anushé Hassan, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Laure Spake, University of Otago
John Shaver, University of Otago
Mary Shenk, The Pennsylvania State University
Richard Sosis, University of Connecticut
Rebecca Sear, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)

The social isolation resulting from governments’ responses to COVID-19 has impacted mothers’ social networks, likely limiting social support. In particular, existing evidence suggests that tasks such as childcare and domestic work have fallen disproportionately on mothers. This increased burden of care has consequences for women’s socio-economic status and health. Using survey data collected in August 2020 from 1528 UK and US mothers with at least one child under 5-years, we document how support networks differed before and during the pandemic. The majority of mothers (78%) reported less in-person contact with their emotional support network during the pandemic, however virtual interactions increased from pre-pandemic levels for 55% of women. Childcare support increased for some women (29%) and decreased for others (33%). Likewise, 25% of women received more domestic support, while 25% received less. Receiving less help was predicted by mother’s country of residence, nativity, partnership status, co-residence of supporter and level of education. Finally, women were more likely to receive support from partners, and less likely from other kin, during the pandemic. This paper identifies the significant proportion of women who are at risk of experiencing reduced support during the pandemic and highlights the diverse impacts of COVID-19.

Keywords: Family demography, COVID-19, Gender, Cross-country comparative analyses

See extended abstract.

  Presented in Session 78. Consequences of COVID-19 on Family Life and Structure