BGSU family demographer contributes to op-ed about COVID-19 impact on health of families

Dr. Jenjira Yahirun, assistant professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University, wants policymakers to think about how COVID-19 affects the health of a diverse range of families.

She and Mieke Beth Thomeer, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, wrote an opinion column  that was published in “The Hill,” an online publication focused on politics, policy, business and international relations.

Yahirun, who specializes in family demography, and Thomeer, a sociologist who specializes in families and health, shared their research in the article, emphasize how policies and recommendations regarding COVID-19 are mostly benefiting “dual-earner, married couples with college degrees and few caregiving responsibilities.” These are the families for which more economic relief is targeted, but who in general have more social, emotional and financial support compared to single-parent or non-married cohabiting households. 

In 2010, married couples with children represented only one in five U.S. households, Yahirun said, thus many of the policies and regulations provided in the COVID-19 relief packages are leaving behind as many as four out of five U.S. households. 

Yahirun and Thomeer's article suggested that government policies need to expand the definition of family beyond the dual-earner nuclear family.

Specifically, legislators and policymakers should consider establishing policies that will benefit a wider range of families who are struggling with the time commitments of work, parenting, caregiving, homeschooling and navigating the processes to access benefits.