Without school, the calculation implodes. If you can even get child care, the high expenses continue, and during this pandemic, there is more housework to be done and more child-related tasks to complete. (For example, I spent at least 15 minutes last week trying to log into Seesaw — a string of words that would not have even made sense to me before March 2020.) Because men tend to outearn women, it is economically the more rational decision for some proportion of mothers to leave their jobs.
But that does not mean they’re happy about it, or that it’s good for marriages or long-term financial security. “Sacrificing market skills to help your family comes at a really big cost,” said Stevenson. “And potentially causes tensions in marriages, and when you put those two together, a generation of women may be pretty badly scarred by Covid.”
Calarco has been conducting a