The disruptions to employment during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the closure of schools and childcare facilities, led many parents of young children to quit their jobs in 2020. This was particularly true for working mothers. In the absence of national legislation that provides long-term relief to parents, the status of family-friendly policies like paid parental leave and affordable childcare—which can address the gaps in employment numbers faced by parents of young children—is even more relevant.
Since the reopening of schools in September 2021, employment rates for mothers of young children recovered on the national level, but varied greatly across states. In “Family-Friendly Policies and the Motherhood Employment Gap During the Covid-19 Recovery,” Joana Duran-Franch and Ira Regmi draw together the effects of family-friendly policies on women’s employment and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women’s labor market outcomes to effectively isolate the impact of family-friendly policies on women’s employment.
Duran-Franch and Regmi’s study builds an index ranking family-friendly policies across states and analyzes the employment gap between mothers of young children and mothers of older children to:
- Demonstrate a correlation between family-friendly policies and the employment gap between mothers of young children and mothers of older children, highlighting the role that such policies play in advancing women’s presence in the labor market; and
- Draw attention to the fact that the motherhood employment gap is highest for non-white women who have attained at most a high school degree.