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Surprise, Surprise: Moms Took On 173 Extra Hours Of Unpaid Child Care In 2020

Shocking (not).

If you are a mom with kids at home this might not come as much of a surprise, but a new study from the Center for Global Development found that women did 173 extra hours of childcare on average in 2020, while men did 59 extra hours. Nearly three times as many hours. Between remote learning and closure of daycares across the globe, women really took the brunt of all that extra childcare that was suddenly thrust upon them during the pandemic.

Researchers from the Center for Global Development compiled data taken from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, and other international organizations to look at how the pandemic affected childcare. Women living in low and middle-income countries were responsible for three quarters of the extra childcare thrust upon families during the pandemic, clocking on average around 217 extra hours. Women in higher income countries did an average of 173 extra hours; all in all, those hours amounted to 615 billion hours of unpaid childcare. That’s working with the assumption that there is only one child in the household, by the way. For families with more than one child, the amount of work obviously goes up.

Moms took on the brunt of extra childcare.Westend61/Westend61/Getty Images

Is it any wonder that PEW Research reported in September that mothers were losing their jobs at three times the rate as fathers during the pandemic? Within six months, more than 865,000 women in the United States had left their jobs, an unprecedented number. A loss that is still felt today. Mothers were already having a tough time holding everything together before the pandemic and were suddenly asked to do the impossible. Billions of hours of extra childcare, work from home, remote learning. No more grandparents who might be able to help out during quarantine, no daycare center drop off. In the first few months, 5.1 million mothers found themselves without work, and The New York Times reports that 1.3 million continue to be without jobs. Jobs that pay, at least.

The women’s rights movement was thrust back into the dark ages in one year. Despite all of the work that had been done for equal rights over the past 60 years or so, mothers were doing three times the childcare of fathers and losing their jobs. This study is not surprising, but it is awfully upsetting.