The effects of COVID-19 on families’ time-use and child development

Researchers: Dr Sarah Cattan

Project overview


This project aims to measure and analyse how families adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to understand the impacts recent isolation measures have on children’s outcomes and the outcome gaps that may form between children of different economic strata.

Existing evidence linking families’ time use and child outcomes suggests that what parents and children will do with the large amount of extra time spent at home will have significant effects on children’s outcomes. COVID-19 and the measures put in place to combat it are changing how children and carers spend their time in unprecedented ways. These changes will significantly affect children’s development and the inequalities therein, ultimately having long-term effects on society.

The researchers will survey a sample of families with children aged 16 or under at least twice during the pandemic, collecting information about the family’s economic circumstances, time-use, and socio-emotional wellbeing. The data will be analysed in conjunction with existing, pre-crisis time-use data and linked to administrative data on children’s educational outcomes. The survey will seek to answer the following:

  1. Learn how families adjust to life under lockdown in the short- and medium-term, asking how parents juggle work and childcare responsibilities as well as how children adapt to “at home” learning
  2. Assess the link between families’ adjustments to the crisis in terms of time-use and children’s well-being
  3. Measure and understand some of the driving forces behind the impact of the crisis on children’s educational outcomes and inequalities therein

Collecting data as the pandemic unfolds has significant value and importance, both now and for future policy and research. This is a unique opportunity to learn about the impact of this unprecedented episode and to inform policy-makers how best to mitigate the pandemic’s negative impacts on families and children.

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Team


  • Dr Sarah Cattan
    Institute for Fiscal Studies

  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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