Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Friday, September 25, 2020

American Family Survey on Family Life During Pandemic

From Naomi Cahn (UVA), writing for Forbes:

The 2020 American Family SurveyFamily Life During a Pandemic, has just landed, and it provides both surprising – and unsurprising – insights into how American families are experiencing work, life, and family in the midst of the pandemic. 

On issues concerning how economics affected their families, on race and gender, on parenting, and on policy preferences, here are some of the key Survey findings.

·     First, on economics, almost a third of respondents said they or a partner had experienced a loss of income, and even more reported an employment change. Black and Hispanic families were more likely than white families to report that their financial situation was worse now compared to before the pandemic (p. 19)....

·      Second, on gender, not surprisingly, men reported that they shared household chores equally, while women reported that they did more, a finding that was fairly consistent across  income groups. But, somewhat surprisingly, men and women agreed on the amount of work their children performed. Men were more likely than women to say “I feel as if I am failing as a parent” (32 to 22%), and to report that their children had “become more difficult” (31 to 19%) (p. 27). They were also more likely to report that they were struggling with the home and work balance (40 to 31%). That may be because, speculates Professor Gregg Strauss, co-director of the UVA Family Law Center, “the experience of spending more time at home around their children affects men and women differently. Women always performed a greater share of domestic work, while men are now seeing more of the domestic and childcare labor and, hence, experiencing more of its stress than usual.” 

·      Third, on parenting. Black and single parents were less likely than white, or Hispanic, or Republican respondents to report that they “are failing as parents.” (p. 23)....

·      Fourth, policy and politics. Approximately 75% had discussed either policy brutality or Black Lives Matter with other members of their family (p. 5) But Democrats and Republicans differed on what they identified as the most important issues facing families, with 71% of Democrats and only 32% of Republicans responding that economics was among the most important issues, and 67% of Republicans compared to 27% of Democrats responding that cultural issues (such as lower rates of church attendance and “sexual permissiveness”) were among the most important (p. 17). And Democrats were three times more likely to believe that Black families confronted obstacles that white families did not (p. 7). As Camille Busette, a Senior Fellow at Brookings, noted at an event surrounding the report’s release, this has concerning implications for the racial wealth gap. Nonetheless, members of both parties believed that the government’s relief checks had been helpful (p. 30).

Moving forward, the report shows the need for continuing governmental, social, and economic support for families, regardless of their demographics. Moreover, as BU Law Professor Linda McClain and I point out in a forthcoming article, it may also be that, as more people spend time at home, the value we accord child care and teaching will increase.

Read more here.

| Permalink


Post a comment