Diw berlin no either or parents worry about their children’s education and health in the lockdown

February 2021 – Nearly two months of the second hard lockdown have left a clear mark on the lives of many families in Germany. This is shown by current analyses based on data from infratest dimap on the concerns and satisfaction of parents. Compared to the lockdown "light" in November, especially the satisfaction with child care has decreased, but also the satisfaction with family life and life in general. Mothers show lower well-being than fathers in this situation, as they did in the first lockdown last spring. Factors such as parental education also. Household income makes a difference. Parents who worry a lot about their children's education also worry about their children's health. While daycare and school closures tend to be viewed positively in terms of health on the one hand, they provide less satisfaction in terms of children's education on the other hand. All the more urgent are well thought-out concepts that do justice to both aspects and thus focus on children and parents with their concerns.

Analyses for the first lockdown in spring 2020 and the period thereafter have shown that daycare and school closures significantly affect parents' well-being in many cases. info Cf. For example, Mathias Huebener et al. (2020): Family well-being in times of Corona: parents with young children most affected. DIW Weekly Report no. 30, 527-537 (available online ); Mathias Huebener et al. (2021): Parental well-being in times of Covid-19 in Germany. Review of Economics of the Household. In particular, satisfaction with family life had fallen among mothers with children of day-care age – as had satisfaction with child care. What about the satisfaction and concerns of parents with children under 16 in recent weeks during the second lockdown? These and broader questions can be answered based on a recent survey of parents at the beginning of 2021.

The following analyses are based on data collected in the 7. January to 2. February 2021 data from the CoronaCOMPASS study by infratest dimap. 250 to 350 people eligible to vote in Germany are surveyed online every day. In total, the analyses include data from 1,376 mothers. Fathers with children under 16 in the household. info For a more detailed description of the data set, cf. Huebener et al. (2020), a.a.O., Box "Data and Methods"; and for exemplary analyses Huebener et al. (2021), a.a.O.; and Odette Wegwarth et al. (2020): Assessment of German public attitudes toward health communications with varying degrees of scientific uncertainty regarding COVID-19. JAMA Network Open (Journal of the American Medical Association), Vol. 3, Ie 12. Based on this dataset, DIW Berlin, in cooperation with infratest dimap, also produces the FamilienMonitor_Corona, which provides highly topical reports on the well-being and concerns of mothers and fathers during the pandemic. info Cf. FamilyMonitor_Corona (available online ). The analyses presented here go beyond the findings reported in FamilienMonitor_Corona and delve deeper into them.

In addition to the concerns of individuals, individual well-being is also a central variable of investigation in economics, since it is not only used as an alternative measure of the welfare of an economy, but also makes a significant contribution to a successful family life, the development of children, and the stability of partnerships, among other things. High individual well-being is also significantly related to willingness to share restrictive measures to contain corona virus. info Cf. Christian Krekel et al. (2020): Are happier people more compliant?? Global evidence from three large-scale surveys during Covid-19 lockdowns. IZA Discussion Paper No. 13690 (available online ). In January of this year, about 90 percent of parents worried about education. The economic future of their children or their child (Figure 1). About 80 percent were very or somewhat worried about their child's health, while only one in three parents were very worried about their own economic situation, and 48 percent were somewhat worried. info Respondents were asked on a 3-point Likert scale whether they were not worried, somewhat worried, or very worried in different areas.

Figure 1:

Worries of mothers and fathers in January 2021 Shares in percent

Diw berlin no either or parents worry about their children's education and health in lockdown

Concerns about education go hand in hand with concerns about health

In the public debate, concern about health is often juxtaposed with concern about children's education and presented as an "either-or" proposition. In fact, however, these concerns usually go hand in hand: from parents who are major concerned about their children's education, more than half are also very concerned about their children's health (figure 2). Another 37 percent worry some. Among parents with some A majority is also concerned about children's education some Worried about the health of the children. When parents report not worrying about their children's education, they are also increasingly not worried or only somewhat worried about their children's health.

Figure 2: Parents' concerns about their children's health as a function of concerns about education Shares in percent

Diw berlin no either or parents worry about their children's education and health in lockdown

Note: Data have been weighted to be representative of the universe. Source: Own calculations based on infratest dimap CoronaCOMPASS. © DIW Berlin 2021

Mothers Worry More than Fathers

Which parents are particularly worried now? For analysis, in addition to socioeconomic characteristics and the age of the youngest child in the household, control beliefs info Individuals with internal control beliefs are more likely to think they can influence their own lives. On the concept of control beliefs cf. for example, Julian B. Rotter (1966): Generalized expectations for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, 80, 1-28. of the parent who participated in the COMPASS survey was used as a personality trait. The concept of locus of control makes it possible to examine the extent to which people who believe they can determine their own lives worry less. In addition, subjective attitudes toward employment of mothers are considered. info Based on questions about mothers' attitudes toward employment, various studies categorize people according to whether they have a more traditional or more egalitarian understanding of their role. Cf. For example, Denise Barth et al. (2020): mothers in East and West: convergence in employment rates and attitudes, not in full-time employment. DIW Weekly Report no. 38, 699-706 (available online ). This makes it possible to assign respondents to a more traditional or emancipatory egalitarian understanding of their role.

The results show that mothers are even more concerned than fathers about the education, economic future and health of the children (Figure 3). Parents with a high school diploma and higher household income worry less in these areas. This could be because, even with (partially) closed daycare centers and schools, they are more likely to be able to provide their children with an educational and care environment that can at least partially substitute for educational institutions. Compared to parents of older school-age children, parents of daycare-age children care less about their children's education and tend to care slightly less about their children's health, although these differences are not statistically significant. Greater internal locus of control belief does not statistically significantly reduce worries. A more egalitarian role conception is associated with slightly lower worries about the child's economic future and health.

Figure 3: Worries of parents in January 2021 by socioeconomic and other characteristics Deviation from respective reference group in percentage points

Diw berlin no either or parents worry about their children's education and health in the lockdown

Note: Results based on multivariate regression analyses. Other control variables: Employment status (categories), type of occupation (categories), community size class (categories). The data were weighted in order to be representative for the population. The horizontal lines represent the 95 percent confidence interval. This means that in 95 percent of the cases the exact value lies in this interval. The probability of error is five percent accordingly. The narrower the interval, the more accurate is the estimated coefficient. Legend: Mothers are around ten percentage points more likely to be very concerned about their child's education than fathers. Source: Own calculations based on infratest dimap CoronaCOMPASS. © DIW Berlin 2021

Looking at parents' concerns about their own economic situation, a differentiated picture emerges: The concerns affect mothers and fathers equally, but are less pronounced among parents with high school diplomas, higher household incomes and a more egalitarian understanding of their roles. Parents of younger children tend to have greater concerns, but these differences from parents with older children are not statistically significant.

Mothers and fathers are particularly dissatisfied with child care

Looking at the satisfaction of mothers and fathers in different areas, a differentiated picture emerges based on the January 2021 survey data. Satisfaction, measured on an 11-Likert scale (0 = "completely dissatisfied" to 10 = "completely satisfied"), is nearly 5 for child care (Figure 4). Satisfaction with family life scores 7, satisfaction with housing scores 7.4, and satisfaction with life in general scores 6.8.

Compared to the situation in November 2020, i.e., the period of the lockdown "light," in which daycare centers and schools, among others, as well as retail stores remained open for the time being, satisfaction with child care has declined significantly. Significant declines in satisfaction are also observed in the area of family life and life in general compared to November 2020. This is also illustrated by further analyses of satisfaction over the course of the pandemic. They are recorded in the FamilienMonitor_Corona, which shows a larger temporal development of changes in different satisfaction areas of mothers and fathers. Compared with scores shortly after the first lockdown in 2020, satisfaction with life in general has worsened even further – satisfaction with family life, at 7.0, is significantly lower then and now than it was pre-pandemic. info See also FamilienMonitor_Corona (available online ). The decline in satisfaction with housing, which is not reflected in the FamilienMonitor_Corona, is also significant, especially compared to 2018. Cf. Maximilian Priem, Franziska Kaiser and Jurgen Schupp (2020): More Satisfied than Ever – Living Conditions in Germany 30 Years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall. Information Service Social Indicators No. 64, 7-15.

Figure 4: Satisfaction of mothers and fathers in January 2021 Likert scale from 0 to 10 ("completely dissatisfied" to "completely satisfied")

Diw berlin no either or parents worry about their children's education and health in lockdown

Note: Data have been weighted to be representative of the population. Mean difference between November. January is statistically significant at the five percent level. Source: Own calculations based on infratest dimap CoronaCOMPASS. © DIW Berlin 2021

Parental satisfaction differs by education and income, among other factors

Satisfaction in different domains varies significantly by socioeconomic characteristics and age of children in the household (Figure 5). Satisfaction with child care is lower among mothers than fathers (though not statistically significant) and households with younger children. Higher household income and stronger internal locus of control are associated with higher satisfaction scores. Satisfaction with family life also. Living conditions tend to be lower for mothers than for fathers. Further, parents with higher household incomes, a more egalitarian role model, and greater internal locus of control exhibit higher satisfaction scores with family life and housing. It should also be emphasized that satisfaction with the home during the lockdown is significantly lower when children of daycare age live in the household.

Figure 5: Satisfaction of parents in January 2021 by socioeconomic and other characteristics Deviation from the respective reference group in points on a Likert scale from 0 to 10

Diw berlin no either or parents worry about their children's education and health in lockdown

Note: Results based on multivariate regression analyses. Other control variables: Employment status (categories), type of occupation (categories), community size class (categories). The data were weighted to be representative for the basic population. The horizontal lines represent the 95 percent confidence interval. This means that in 95 percent of the cases the exact value lies within this interval. The probability of error is five percent accordingly. The narrower the interval, the more accurate the estimated coefficient. Reading example: If a child of daycare age lives in the household, satisfaction with childcare is about 0.4 points lower on a Likert scale than in households with older children. Source: Own calculations based on infratest dimap CoronaCOMPASS. © DIW Berlin 2021

Note: Results are based on multivariate regression analyses. Other control variables: Employment status (categories), type of occupation (categories), community size class (categories). Data were weighted to be representative of the population. The horizontal lines represent the 95 percent confidence interval. This means that in 95 percent of the cases the exact value lies in this interval. The probability of error is correspondingly five percent. The narrower the interval, the more accurate the estimated coefficient. Legend: If a child of daycare age lives in the household, satisfaction with childcare is about 0.4 points lower on a Likert scale than in households with older children. Source: Own calculations based on infratest dimap CoronaCOMPASS. Overall life satisfaction is higher for parents from higher-income households. Parents with higher internal locus of control beliefs. Those with a daycare child are also happier in this area. info The observation that parents of young children in the pandemic show higher overall life satisfaction has also been shown in other studies, cf. Huebener et al. (2021), a.a.O. Overall, it appears that satisfaction in the different areas is much more likely than worry to be related to the personality of the respondents and also their attitudes.

Those who care a lot about child's health are more satisfied with child care

Finally, we consider how parents' concerns described above relate to current well-being, that is, satisfaction in different areas. Satisfaction with childcare in the current lockdown with extensive daycare and school closures is significantly higher among parents who are large Worried about their children's health (Figure 6). This could be attributed to the fact that due to the (partial) closures of daycare centers and schools, the risk of infection is lower in educational and daycare facilities.

Figure 6: Correlation of satisfaction and worries of parents in January 2021 Deviation from the respective reference group in points on a Likert scale from 0 to 10

Diw berlin no either or parents worry about their children's education and health in lockdown

Note: Results based on multivariate regression analysis. Other control variables: Mother, high school diploma, income, egalitarian role concept, internal locus of control beliefs, employment status (categories), type of occupation (categories), age of youngest child in household (categories), community size class (categories). The data have been weighted to be representative of the population at large. The horizontal lines represent the 95 percent confidence interval. This means that in 95 percent of the cases the exact value lies in this interval. The probability of error is correspondingly five percent. The narrower the interval, the more accurate is the estimated coefficient. Reading example: If parents are very worried about their child's health, they are currently much more satisfied with the childcare situation. The difference on a Likert scale to parents who are not very concerned about their children's health is almost one point. Source: Own calculations based on infratest dimap CoronaCOMPASS. © DIW Berlin 2021

In addition, major concerns about children's education and economic future are also associated with lower satisfaction with child care. This indicates that parents consciously perceive that the changed educational and care situation cannot replace learning in the daycare and school context without consequences for all, and thus educational policy goals on the one hand and health policy goals on the other – and both are important to parents – are difficult to reconcile in the pandemic.

Concerns about children's education and future are also related to family satisfaction, but concerns about child health are not. Those who are worried about their own economic situation are also significantly less satisfied with family life. Concerns about one's own economic situation also show a connection with housing satisfaction: the greater these concerns, the more dissatisfied the respondents are with their housing situation. Remarkably, there is no correlation between satisfaction with the housing situation and concerns about children in different areas. This finding is surprising, since it can be amed that a subjectively perceived better living situation makes the challenges of home daycare and home schooling easier to cope with.

Finally, when it comes to satisfaction with life in general, it is also apparent that concerns about children's education and future on the one hand and concerns about their health against the backdrop of closed daycare centers and schools can represent a trade-off in parents' well-being. While parents with major concerns about children's health tend to have higher life satisfaction in the current lockdown, it is lower when parents are more concerned about their children's education and especially their economic future.

Conclusion: pay more attention to parents' concerns and well-being when addressing pandemics

Analyses based on current data on parents' concerns and well-being after almost two months of lockdown show that parents are equally concerned about their children's health and education – education and health are thus both considered central for children.

Parents' well-being scores in January were down significantly from last November – the time of the lockdown "light": in particular, satisfaction with child care, but also with family life and life overall. This provides empirical evidence, as it did for the period of the first lockdown, that daycare and school closures are very stressful for many families. (Partially) closed daycare centers are rated positively with regard to children's health, but also lead to dissatisfaction on the part of parents with regard to children's education and economic future. Overall, mothers' life satisfaction is more impaired, which is a finding that should not be neglected, also with regard to children's development. Here, too, it is evident that households with more resources have more options and are more satisfied on average.

In any case, parents' concerns and also their well-being should be included in the assessment of measures to further contain the pandemic, as they are associated with lasting consequences for families and children. This is why empirical findings that provide timely reports on concerns and satisfaction levels are very important. This is not least because approval of Corona crisis management has declined significantly since December and acceptance of the measures is behind that of spring 2020. The burdens on families, especially with regard to educational and childcare opportunities, are of central relevance here. info See most recently, among others, the ARD-DeutschlandTREND in February 2021. The FamilienMonitor_Corona will continue to provide up-to-date empirical findings and assessments in the near future.

Abstract

Almost two months of the second hard lockdown have left a clear mark on the lives of many families in Germany. This is shown by recent analyses based on data from infratest dimap on parents' concerns and satisfaction. Compared to the lockdown "light" in November, satisfaction with child care in particular decreased, but so did satisfaction with family life and life in general. Mothers show lower welfare than fathers in this situation, as they did in the first lockdown last spring. Also factors such as the education of parents. Household income makes a difference. Parents who worry a lot about their children's education also worry about their health. While on the one hand the daycare and school closures are viewed rather positively in terms of health, on the other hand they provide less satisfaction in terms of children's education. This makes well-thought-out concepts that do justice to both aspects and thus focus on children and parents with their concerns seem all the more urgent.

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