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This Time It's Different: The Role of Women's Employment in a Pandemic Recession

Author

Listed:
  • Titan Alon

    (University of California San Diego)

  • Matthias Doepke

    (Northwestern University)

  • Jane Olmstead-Rumsey

    (Northwestern University)

Abstract

In recent US recessions, employment losses have been much larger for men than for women. Yet, in the current recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the opposite is true: unemployment is higher among women. In this paper, we analyze the causes and consequences of this phenomenon. We argue that women have experienced sharp employment losses both because their employment is concentrated in heavily affected sectors such as restaurants, and due to increased childcare needs caused by school and daycare closures, preventing many women from working. We analyze the repercussions of this trend using a quantitative macroeconomic model featuring heterogeneity in gender, marital status, childcare needs, and human capital. Our quantitative analysis suggests that a pandemic recession will i) feature a strong transmission from employment to aggregate demand due to diminished within-household insurance; ii) result in a widening of the gender wage gap throughout the recovery; and iii) contribute to a weakening of the gender norms that currently produce a lopsided distribution of the division of labor in home work and childcare.

Suggested Citation

  • Titan Alon & Matthias Doepke & Jane Olmstead-Rumsey, 2020. "This Time It's Different: The Role of Women's Employment in a Pandemic Recession," Working Papers 2020-057, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
  • Handle: RePEc:hka:wpaper:2020-057
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    Cited by:

    1. Ritzen, Jozef M., 2020. "Once the great lockdown is lifted: Post COVID-19 options for the economy," MERIT Working Papers 2020-057, United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    2. Clara von Bismarck-Osten & Kirill Borusyak & Uta Schönberg, 2022. "The role of schools in transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus: quasi-experimental evidence from Germany," Economic Policy, CEPR, CESifo, Sciences Po;CES;MSH, vol. 37(109), pages 87-130.
    3. Jose Maria Barrero & Nicholas Bloom & Steven J. Davis, 2020. "Why Working From Home Will Stick," Working Papers 2020-174, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    4. Jang, Youngsoo & Yum, Minchul, 2020. "Aggregate and Intergenerational Implications of School Closures: A Quantitative Assessment," MPRA Paper 107593, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Kouki, Amairisa, 2023. "Beyond the “Comforts” of work from home: Child health and the female wage penalty," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 157(C).
    6. Kugler, Maurice & Viollaz, Mariana & Duque, Daniel & Gaddis, Isis & Newhouse, David & Palacios-Lopez, Amparo & Weber, Michael, 2023. "How did the COVID-19 crisis affect different types of workers in the developing world?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 170(C).
    7. Nicholas Bloom & Philip Bunn & Paul Mizen & Pawel Smietanka & Gregory Thwaites, 2020. "The Impact of Covid-19 on Productivity," NBER Working Papers 28233, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Faberman, R. Jason & Mueller, Andreas I. & Şahin, Ayşegül, 2022. "Has the Willingness to Work Fallen during the Covid Pandemic?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(C).
    9. Scott, Douglas & Freund, Richard & Favara, Marta & Porter, Catherine & Sanchez, Alan, 2021. "Unpacking the Post-lockdown Employment Recovery of Young Women in the Global South," IZA Discussion Papers 14829, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    10. Sugawara, Shinya & Nakamura, Jiro, 2021. "Long-term care at home and female work during the COVID-19 pandemic," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 125(7), pages 859-868.
    11. Nicole Hiekel & Mine Kühn, 2023. "Gender inequality in childcare and parental mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic in Germany. Do gender role attitudes matter?," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2023-007, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.
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    13. Taiyo Fukai & Hidehiko Ichimura & Keisuke Kawata, 2021. "Describing the impacts of COVID-19 on the labor market in Japan until June 2020," The Japanese Economic Review, Springer, vol. 72(3), pages 439-470, July.
    14. Singh, Vikkram & Shirazi, Homayoun & Turetken, Jessica, 2022. "COVID-19 and gender disparities: Labour market outcomes," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 206-217.
    15. Bluedorn, John & Caselli, Francesca & Hansen, Niels-Jakob & Shibata, Ippei & Tavares, Marina M., 2023. "Gender and employment in the COVID-19 recession: Cross-Country evidence on “She-Cessions”," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    COVID-19; gender; marital status; human capital;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity

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