Study: COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting women

Primary responsibility for child care, unemployment and psychological distress remain higher among women than their male partners amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a study released Tuesday by researchers from USC.

"Women continue to disproportionately suffer the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Gema Zamarro, the study's author and adjunct senior economist for the USC Dornsife Center for Economic and Social Research. "This could have important implications for the recovery of the economy and represent a significant step back in terms of gender equality."

The USC Dornsife Understanding Coronavirus in America Study analyzed survey responses collected from March 10 through Nov. 25 from more than 3,100 people throughout the U.S. who are living with a spouse or partner, ages 18 to 64.

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The study found that women, including working mothers, carry an increasingly heavier load than men when it comes to providing childcare and educational support for their children. The percentage of working mothers who have sole responsibility for providing childcare and help with schoolwork has increased since last spring from 33% to 45%, according to researchers.

The study also found that women have also lost jobs at a higher rate than men during the pandemic, with nearly twice as many remaining without a job compared with men.

Among women living with a spouse or partner who were employed in March, 19% of women and 15% of men lost their jobs in April, according to the study. Of those, 15 of women were without a job at the end of November, compared with 8% of men.

Researchers determined that psychological distress for both men and women has decreased since its pandemic peak in early April, but found that 32% of women with and without children were experiencing psychological distress compared with 22% of men without children. 

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