The Precarity of Progress: Implications of a Shifting Gendered Division of Labor for Relationships and Well-Being as a Function of Country-Level Gender Equality

Alexandra N. Fisher, Michelle K. Ryan, Yuan Hsi Liao, Gosia Mikołajczak, Larisa Riedijk, N. Pontus Leander, Georgios Abakoumkin, Jamilah Hanum Abdul Khaiyom, Vjollca Ahmedi, Maximilian Agostini, Moshin Atta, Sabahat Cigdem Bagci, Jocelyn J. Bélanger, Edona Berisha Kida, Allan B. I. Bernardo, Phatthanakit Chobthamkit, Hoon Seok Choi, Mioara Cristea, Kaja Damnjanovic, Ivan DanyliukDaniela Di Santo, Karen M. Douglas, Violeta Enea, Gavan J. Fitzsimons, Ángel Gómez, Ben Gützkow, Ali Hamaidia, Mai Helmy, Joevarian Hudiyana, Veljko Jovanović, Veljko Jovanović, Anna Kende, Shian Ling Keng, Tra Thi Thanh Kieu, Yasin Koc, Jannis Kreienkamp, Anton Kurapov, Nóra Anna Lantos, Edward P. Lemay, Adrian Lueders, Najma Iqbal Malik, Kira O. McCabe, Jasmina Mehulić, Erica Molinario, Manuel Moyano, Hayat Muhammad, Hamdi Muluk, Claudia F. Nisa, Boglárka Nyúl, Paul A. O’Keefe, Jose Javier Olivias Osuna, Evgeny Osin, Joonha Park, Gennaro Pica, Antonio Pierro, Jonas Rees, Anne Margit Reitsema, Marika Rullo, Adil Samekin, Birga M. Schumpe, Heyla A. Selim, Michael Vicente Stanton, Eleftheria Tseliou, Michelle R vanDellen, Alexandra Vázquez, Robin Wollast, Victoria Wai Lan Yeung, Somayeh Zand, Iris Lav Žeželj, Claudia Zúñiga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a shift toward a more traditional division of labor–one where women took greater responsibility for household tasks and childcare than men. We tested whether this regressive shift was more acutely perceived and experienced by women in countries with greater gender equality. Cross-cultural longitudinal survey data for women and men (N = 10,238) was collected weekly during the first few months of the pandemic. Multilevel modelling analyses, based on seven waves of data collection, indicated that a regressive shift was broadly perceived but not uniformly felt. Women and men alike perceived a shift toward a more traditional division of household labor during the first few weeks of the pandemic. However, this perception only undermined women’s satisfaction with their personal relationships and subjective mental health if they lived in countries with higher levels of economic gender equality. Among women in countries with lower levels of economic gender equality, the perceived shift predicted higher relationship satisfaction and mental health. There were no such effects among men. Taken together, our results suggest that subjective perceptions of disempowerment, and the gender role norms that underpin them, should be considered when examining the gendered impact of global crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-658
Number of pages17
JournalSex Roles
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Division of labor
  • Gender equality
  • Gender roles
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Relationship quality
  • Well being


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