School reopenings and maternal well-being during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Denmark
Sudden closings of schools and childcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic have disrupted family relations and parental work-care routines, and previous studies suggest that the well-being and mental health of mothers may have suffered as a result. We draw on weekly time-use data for a convenience sample of Danish residents to provide new evidence on the relationship between school closings and the well-being of mothers with young children (ages 0-10) during the first wave of the pandemic. Our data are unique in providing information on momentary feelings and emotions for a random selection of daily activity episodes, in addition to global (self-)evaluations of psychological well-being.
Denmark was among the first countries to reopen schools and childcare facilities, and we compare maternal well-being after reopening to the final weeks of the lockdown period. We find marked differences by level of education: university-educated mothers saw improvements in self-evaluative well-being as schools reopened, while non-university-educated mothers experienced no major changes or even slight declines. In terms of momentary affect at the episode level, we find that negative emotions declined substantially in the course of school reopenings, a trend that appears to be specific to care work and is not found for other major activity categories.
Jan Paul Heisig is Head of the WZB Research Group Health and Social Inequality.
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