SPI Financial Security

Working Parents in COVID-19: The Impact and the Policy Response

Michal Grinstein-Weiss, director of the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis (SPI), and Nisha Patel, senior fellow at SPI, spoke on a panel hosted by the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences on Oct. 29, 2020 about the impact of COVID-19 on working families, including original research from the Socioeconomic Impacts of COVID-19 survey administered by SPI. Below is a recording and recap of the event.

The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified disparities in health and in social and economic well-being among demographic and socio-economic groups in America. Many low-wage workers are now considered to be essential workforce participants, and states’ various attempts to “reopen” their economies force Americans in already-difficult circumstances at home to decide between workforce participation and safety for themselves and for their children or parents. Research is also showing that working mothers are disproportionately leaving the workforce and that the effects could be felt for years to come.


  • Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow, Economic Studies, Center on Children and Families, Future of the Middle Class Initiative, Brookings
  • Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Shanti K. Khinduka Distinguished Professor and associate dean for policy initiatives at the Brown School and director of the Social Policy Institute at Washington University in St. Louis
  • Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee professor of economics, Harvard University
  • Molly Kinder, David M. Rubenstein fellow, metropolitan policy program, Brookings
  • Nisha Patel, senior fellow, Social Policy Institute, Washington University in St. Louis