Childcare and depression during the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa: a gendered analysis

SOURCE: PLoS One
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2021
TITLE AUTHOR(S): C.O.Nwosu
KEYWORDS: CARE OF CHILDREN, COVID-19, DEPRESSION, GENDER EQUALITY
DEPARTMENT: Impact Centre (IC), Impact Centre (PRESS), Impact Centre (CC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 12155
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/16582
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/16582

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Abstract

The 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic resulted in the closure of businesses and schools, the remote provision of services and the disruption of the services of professional childminders. These disruptions resulted in a significant increase in parental responsibility for childcare. Such a substantial increase in time requirements for childcare domestically has potential mental health consequences. We therefore ascertained the relationship between childcare and depression in South Africa during the pandemic. Data came from the National Income Dynamics Study-Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey, a longitudinal telephonic survey conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa. The outcome was a depression index obtained from the two-item Patient Health Questionnaire while the main covariate was the average number of hours spent in taking care of children per weekday. We employed the ordered logit model. We found a positive relationship between spending more hours on childcare and worse depressive health for caregivers in both periods analyzed. Childcare responsibilities preventing/mitigating the ability of caregivers to work as well as preventing caregivers from searching for jobs moderated the depression-childcare relationship. These findings highlight the need to carefully consider policy responses aimed at containing the pandemic. We advocate a multi-stakeholder approach to mitigating the mental health impact of COVID-19 by encouraging more collaboration between government, school authorities, employers and parents/guardians.