Sam Cosaert, Alexandros Theloudis, Bertrand Verheyden, 28 August 2020

COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures have affected working hours and household income, with an unequal effect on women and men. The collective model of the household has hitherto ignored distinctions between private versus joint activities by parents in household time allocation. This column examines the evolving costs and benefits of togetherness, using Dutch data for 2009–2012, and speculates on how lockdown policies may affect togetherness and household welfare. Joint leisure and childcare generate a loss of flexibility in the labour market, and joint childcare prevents specialisation, generating tension between parental childcare quality and quantity.

Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Moritz Kuhn, Michèle Tertilt, 30 May 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has hit women’s employment particularly hard, partly because the worst-hit sectors have high female employment shares, but also because schools and daycare closures have forced more mothers to leave their jobs. This column looks at Germany, where 26% of the workforce has children aged 14 or younger, and quantifies the macroeconomic importance of working parents. If schools and daycare centres remain closed as the economy slowly reopens, 11% of workers and 8% of all working hours will be lost to the labour market. Policies to restart the economy must accommodate the concerns of these families.

Andrea Ichino, Martin Olsson, Barbara Petrongolo, Peter Skogman Thoursie, 11 September 2019

Gender identity norms are possible drivers of persistent gender inequalities in the labour market, but the extent to which such norms restrict the behaviour of couples is debated. This column examines how households in Sweden changed their allocation of home production in response to the introduction of a tax credit that altered the marginal tax rates (and the relative take-home pay) in different ways for spouses in couples. It finds that immigrant couples, who tend to come from countries with more traditional gender norms than Sweden, responded more strongly to a reduction in the husband’s tax rate than the wife’s. By not responding to wives’ tax cuts, these couples may forgo as much as £2,000 per year in household disposable income.

Alexander Bick, Bettina Brüggemann, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Hannah Paule-Paludkiewicz, 15 November 2018

The extent to which tax policies influence the amount of labour that private households supply has been at the centre of many public policy debates. Within married couples, joint versus separate taxation may be one factor that contributes to differences in household labour supply. This column uses a model that closely reproduces the changes in married women’s labour supply in the US and Europe between the early 1980s and 2016 to show that taxes are indeed a major factor shaping the labour supply of married women.

Francesca Carta, Marta De Philippis, 11 November 2018

Commuting time has been regarded mainly as affecting labour supply decisions at the individual level. Previous analyses do not consider the interactions between partners’ commuting times and their labour supply. This column shows that, in response to the husband’s longer commute, the wife’s employment decreases and the husband works slightly more. These results suggest that intra-family interactions need to be considered when evaluating policies that apparently affect one partner only.

Julia Bredtmann, Sebastian Otten, Christian Rulff, 21 December 2017

Little is known about how unemployment shocks are absorbed within the household. This column uses longitudinal micro data for 28 European countries to investigate the effect of husbands’ job loss on wives’ labour supply. Overall, there is evidence that women increase their labour supply in response to their husband losing a job. However, the response varies over both the business cycle and across different welfare regimes.

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