Gendered Effects of Telework on Subjective Well-being during Covid-19: The Case of Japan
We investigate the effect of telework on employees’ subjective well-being (SWB) in Japan during the Covid-19 period, with an emphasis on the potential gender discrepancies in the telework effect. We use the latest 4 available waves of Japan Household Panel Survey (JHPS) and its Covid-19 module conducted between early 2020 to early 2021 (i.e., within one year of the Covid-19 outbreak). Telework effect is estimated via both Fixed Effect (FE) and Difference in Difference (DiD) methods. We find that, telework decreases employees’ SWB during Covid-19. However, this negative effect is significant only for males. We also find that, telework results in an expansion of housework and childcare hours for females. This is in line with gender expectations that females are caretakers, which would increase female teleworkers’ affective utility following gender identity theory, and thus partially offset the negative affective effect from the increasing domestic burden. On the other hand, males’ working hours are decreased when teleworking, which contradicts gender norms and would hence attenuate male teleworkers’ affective utility. Although males’ leisure time increases when teleworking, which would improve their SWB, the combined effect is still significantly negative. Thus, our results imply that Japanese males might still lexicographically value the conservative gender norm that males are breadwinners.