Epidemic Puts Heavy Burden on Full-Time Housewives

  • By Kim Yeon-ju, Yoon Soo-jung

    November 25, 2020 08:42

    The coronavirus epidemic has increased the childcare burden on full-time housewives as schools and crammers closed.

    This trend is chronicled in a report by Eun Ki-soo from Seoul National University in the November issue of "Labor Review." It cites a poll from June and July that showed housewives cared for their children for an average of nine hours and six minutes a day before the epidemic, but that rose to 12 hours and 38 minutes once the virus struck.

    For double-income couples, the time working mothers spent caring for their children rose from five hours and three minutes to six hours and 47 minutes.

    But working fathers in double-income families spent only 46 minutes more with their children to total three hours and 54 minutes a day, and men who are the sole breadwinner in the family 29 minutes more at three hours and 30 minutes.


    Sharing of childcare duties also changed in the disfavor of housewives who shouldered an estimated 70 percent of childcare before the epidemic and 80 percent once it struck. However, among double-income couples the share does not seem to have changed much.

    Some 76.4 percent of housewives said they desperately need time for themselves away from their kids, compared to 41.6 percent for their working husbands. That proportion was markedly higher than working mothers (56.5 percent) and working fathers (33 percent) in double-income families.

    Prof. Eun at SNU said, "Housewives take care of children full-time, and having to spend even more time looking after them now due to the epidemic is not a reason to be happy, but a source of mental stress. It's the same for working mothers because they have find more time for their children while working as usual." 

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