Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



This research was also carried out in part using the facilities of the University of Pennsylvania Population Studies Center (R24 HD044964)


This article provides a comprehensive analysis of mechanisms driving the increase in gender inequality in paid work during the pandemic to address existing disagreement about the relative relevance of labor market and work-family conflict processes. Using panel data from the United States Current Population Survey (CPS), we examine four mechanisms in an integrated analysis that explicitly includes single-parent households and assesses the moderating role of women’s economic position relative to their partners. The results indicate that increases in gender inequality during the pandemic were largely driven by a direct gender mechanism in households with children and partly driven by gender differences in pre-pandemic labor market positions and the higher prevalence of women in lower earner position relative to their partners. The higher prevalence of women among single-parent households does little to contribute to increases in gender inequality despite single parents being more negatively impacted than partnered women and men.


COVID-19 pandemic, gender gap, labor market, work-family conflict, United States



Date Posted: 15 March 2022