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How did parents’ experiences in the labour market shape children’s social and emotional development during the pandemic?

Cattan, Sarah, Farquharson, Christine, Krutikova, Sonya, McKendrick, Andrew and Sevilla, Almudena (2023) How did parents’ experiences in the labour market shape children’s social and emotional development during the pandemic? IFS Report (R267). Institute for Fiscal Studies (Great Britain), London, UK. ISBN 9781801031387

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Identification Number: 10.1920/re.ifs.2023.0267


The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many aspects of children’s lives, with impacts on their social and emotional development as well as their educational attainment. School closures increased social and emotional difficulties (Blanden et al., 2021); lack of contact with friends and extended family left some children without a trusted adult to turn to (Newlove-Delgado et al., 2021); and severe illness and death of loved ones increased (Slomski, 2021; Liang, Becker and Rice, 2022). In this report, we consider another channel through which the pandemic may have affected children’s social and emotional development: the disruption to parents’ experiences in the labour market created by lockdown restrictions. As in many other countries, national lockdowns and wider social distancing measures severely disrupted the UK’s labour market, with many businesses shutting down. The government introduced a range of policies, such as the furlough scheme, to insure workers against the impacts of these closures. Even so, a shifting public health and policy landscape meant that many families had some financial losses during the first year of the pandemic, and/or faced high levels of uncertainty. Taken together, parents’ labour market experiences during the pandemic could have affected both a household’s resources and the quality and quantity of time parents and children spent together. Since systematic reviews of children’s mental health during the pandemic consistently suggest that higher socio-economic status and better relationships with parents were protective factors (Ng and Ng, 2022; Theberath et al., 2022), analysing the role that parents’ labour market experiences played in shaping children’s outcomes is crucial for understanding how the pandemic affected children and their development.

Item Type: Monograph (Report)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Institute for Fiscal Studies
Divisions: Social Policy
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2024 13:54
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 13:37

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