Covid-19 pandemic is likely to profoundly affect our families, work lives, relationships and gender roles for years, say 12 prominent scientists who analysed 90 research studies to evaluate pandemic and its aftermath.
The study published in journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that planned pregnancies will decrease in a disease-ridden world, birth-rates will drop, and many couples will postpone marriage.
"People who are single are less likely to start new relationships. Women who can afford to be on their own are likely to stay single longer," said study senior author Martie Haselton from the University of California, Los Angeles in the US.
According to the researchers, with children home due to the pandemic, women are spending more time providing care and schooling, are less available for paying work and may come to rely more on male partners as breadwinners.
This will push us toward socially conservative gender norms and potentially result in a backslide in gender equality.
Unlike many past crises, this pandemic is not bringing people closer together and, despite some exceptions, it is not producing an increase in kindness, empathy or compassion, especially in the US.
"Our species is not wired for seeking a precise understanding of the world as it actually is," the authors wrote, and our tribal predispositions toward groupthink are resulting in the large-scale spread of misinformation. We tend to seek out data that supports our opinions, and we too often distrust health experts, they say.
"The psychological, social and societal consequences of Covid-19 will be very long-lasting. The longer Covid-19 continues, the more entrenched these changes are likely to be," the team said
As marriage rates plummet and people postpone reproduction in a virus-plagued world, some nations' populations will shrink and fall precipitously below "replacement level," they added.
These birth-rate drops, in turn, can have to cascade social and economic consequences, affecting job opportunities, straining the ability of countries to provide a safety net for their ageing populations and potentially leading to global economic contraction.
Research has also shown that even before the pandemic, women were more stressed than men by family and job responsibilities.
"Now they are managing more household responsibilities related to child care and education," the study noted.
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