Pandemic effects on families in Europe is focus of Journal of Family Research issue edited by Michaela Kreyenfeld

Special Issue of 20 papers by European researchers informs policymakers about social disparities and support measures.

How families in Europe have coped with the COVID-19 pandemic is the focus of a Special Issue of the Journal of Family Research, edited by Michaela Kreyenfeld, Hertie School Professor of Sociology, Katarzyna Suwada of Nicolaus Copernicus University and Ulrike Zartler of the University of Vienna.

The wide-ranging assessment across different societal contexts in Europe finds that policymakers often adopted a narrow view of what constitutes a family, which kept them from addressing family diversity in their decision making, the authors say.

“Disparities between families have increased during the crisis and there are groups that are particularly vulnerable – and they should be the target of policy measures,” says Kreyenfeld. She emphasises that support measures should be tailored to the needs of these groups, rather than distributed widely, so they are effective in alleviating social, economic and educational disparities.

The Special Issue underscores the importance of family in keeping society functioning during crisis times, the authors say. The researchers generally find that the pandemic aggravated existing social and economic inequalities and single parents and parents and children in low-income households were most strongly affected.

Broadly speaking, findings show that the pandemic did not lead to radical shifts in gendered care patterns, but mothers and fathers experienced the pandemic differently, with mothers reporting higher levels of stress, according to the authors.

The studies are based on qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method approaches and data gathered during 2020. It covers the first lockdown period, the reopening phases, and the months thereafter.

Find the Special Issue here.
Read Michaela Kreyenfeld’s introduction here.

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