Journal Article

Mothering and stress during COVID-19: exploring the moderating effects of employment

Yan, H. X., Sayer, L. C., Negraia, D. V., Rinderknecht, R. G., Doan, L., Drotning, K. J., Fish, J. N., Buck, C.
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World, 1–21 (2022)
Open Access


Using primary data from the Assessing the Social Consequences of COVID-19 study, the authors examined how the 
pandemic affected the stress levels of women with and without coresiding minor children (mothers vs. nonmothers), 
paying special attention to the moderating role of employment status. The ordinary least squares regression results 
show that following the pandemic outbreak, among full-time working women, mothers reported smaller stress increases 
than nonmothers. In contrast, among part-time and nonemployed women, mothers and nonmothers experienced 
similar stress increases. Also, full-time working mothers reported smaller stress increases than women with most 
other mothering and employment statuses. Changes in women’s employment status, following pandemic onset, had 
limited impacts on the patterns of stress change. This study contributes to research on parenting and health by showing 
that during times of crisis, full-time employment may be protective of mothers’ mental health but may not buffer the 
mental health deterioration of women not raising children.

Keywords: health, inequality
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.