COVID-19 Policies for Gender Equality (CoPE)

Project Overview

Aims and Central Research Question

The purpose of this project is twofold. First, the project aims to provide a cross-country comparative analysis of gender inequalities in the division of household and care work between couples and in the life satisfaction of men and women. Second, the project intends to examine the relationship between gender inequalities and family policy. We compare four European countries in the CoPE project: Finland, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. On the one hand, these countries are characterised by different gender and welfare state cultures. On the other hand, the COVID-19 measures also vary greatly between and at times within the four country contexts studied. Whether and to what extent these different COVID-19 policy measures also influence gender inequalities in housework, family work and life satisfaction and in what ways, are central to the project.


The outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis in March 2020 marked the beginning of a societal discussion on appropriate measures to contain the pandemic. One far-reaching measure in many countries was the closure of schools and childcare facilities, which had an unprecedented impact on families. Empirical evidence to date on the impact of the lockdown measures suggests such measures led to an increase in gender inequality in the division of housework and childcare, although country differences in these inequalities are visible. At the same time, women's life satisfaction worsened more than men's during the first lockdown, and this gender difference was even more pronounced for parents than for people without children. While much attention has been given to gendered differences within countries, we focus on international comparisons of how gender intersects with other characteristics such as socio-economic background, in shaping the impact of lockdown measures on men and women.


Using a mixed-methods comparative approach, we examine similarities and differences in gender inequalities and the relationship to family policies during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the first part of the project, we examine the micro-level mechanisms that led to different consequences for different groups of men and women. To this end, we analyse representative national panel datasets to measure the impact on behaviour (changes in housework and childcare) and life satisfaction. The second part of the project will focus on an analysis of family policies and related policies for gender equality.


Sociology, Economics, Political Science

Project Start

01 October 2021


Bertogg, Ariane, Kulic, Nevena, Strauss, Susanne (2021): Protected through Part-time Employment? Labor Market Status, Domestic Responsibilities, and the Life Satisfaction of German Women during the COVID-19 Pandemic, Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, online first,

Kulic, Nevena, Dotti Sani, Giulia, Strauss, Susanne, Bellani, Luna (2020): Economic Disturbances in the COVID-19 Crisis and their Gendered Impact on Unpaid Activities in Germany and Italy, in: European Societies , online first:

Yerkes, Mara A., Andre, Stefanie, Besamusca, Janna, Kruyen, Peter, Remery, Chantal L.H.S., van der Zwan, Roos, Beckers, Debby G J & Geurts, Sabine A E (2020). ‘Intelligent’ lockdown, intelligent effects? Results from a survey on gender (in)equality in paid work, the division of childcare and household work, and quality of life among parents in the Netherlands during the Covid-19 lockdown. PLoS One, 15 (11), (pp. 1-23).

Project Partners

Dr. Giulia Dotti Sani (Università degli Studi di Milano)

Find out more about Dr. Giulia Dotti Sani here.

Dr. Minna van Gerven-Haanpaa (University of Helsinki)

Find out more about Dr. Minna van Gerven-Haanpaa here.

Dr. Johanna Lammi-Taskula (Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare)

Find out more about Dr. Johanna Lammi-Taskula here.

Dr. Mario Lucchini (University of Milano-Bicocca)

Find out more about Dr. Mario Lucchini here.

Dr. Chantal Remery (University of Utrecht)

Find out more about Dr. Chantal Remery here.