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From Mancession to Shecession: Women's Employment in Regular and Pandemic Recessions


  • Titan Alon
  • Sena Coskun
  • Matthias Doepke
  • David Koll
  • Michèle Tertilt


We examine the impact of the global recession triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic on women's versus men's employment. Whereas recent recessions in advanced economies usually had a disproportionate impact on men's employment, giving rise to the moniker "mancessions," we show that the pandemic recession of 2020 was a "shecession" in most countries with larger employment declines among women. We examine the causes behind this pattern using micro data from several national labor force surveys, and show that both the composition of women's employment across industries and occupations as well as increased childcare needs during closures of schools and daycare centers made important contributions. While many countries exhibit similar patterns, we also emphasize how policy choices such as furloughing policies and the extent of school closures shape the pandemic's impact on the labor market. Another notable finding is the central role of telecommuting: gender gaps in the employment impact of the pandemic arise almost entirely among workers who are unable to work from home. Nevertheless, among telecommuters a different kind of gender gap arises: women working from home during the pandemic spent more work time also doing childcare and experienced greater productivity reductions than men. We discuss what our findings imply for gender equality in a post-pandemic labor market that will likely continue to be characterized by pervasive telecommuting.

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  • Titan Alon & Sena Coskun & Matthias Doepke & David Koll & Michèle Tertilt, 2021. "From Mancession to Shecession: Women's Employment in Regular and Pandemic Recessions," NBER Working Papers 28632, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:28632
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    1. HOSHI Kisho & KASAHARA Hiroyuki & MAKIOKA Ryo & SUZUKI Michio & TANAKA Satoshi, 2021. "The Heterogeneous Effects of COVID-19 on Labor Markets: People's Movement and Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions," Discussion papers 21045, Research Institute of Economy, Trade and Industry (RIETI).
    2. Jaeger, David A. & Arellano-Bover, Jaime & Karbownik, Krzysztof & Martínez Matute, Marta & Nunley, John M. & Seals, Jr., R. Alan & Almunia, Miguel & Alston, Mackenzie & Becker, Sascha O. & Beneito, Pi, 2021. "The Global COVID-19 Student Survey: First Wave Results," IZA Discussion Papers 14419, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Natalia Danzer & Mathias Huebener & Astrid Pape & C. Katharina Spieß & Nico A. Siegel & Gert G. Wagner, 2021. "Cracking under Pressure? Gender Role Attitudes toward Maternal Employment in Times of a Pandemic," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1951, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    4. Kugler,Maurice David & Viollaz,Mariana & Vasconcellos Archer Duque,Daniel & Gaddis,Isis & Newhouse,David Locke & Palacios-Lopez,Amparo & Weber,Michael, 2021. "How Did the COVID-19 Crisis Affect Different Types of Workers in the Developing World ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9703, The World Bank.
    5. Casey B. Mulligan, 2021. "The incidence and magnitude of the health costs of in-person schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 188(3), pages 303-332, September.
    6. Davide Fiaschi & Cristina Tealdi, 2021. "Young people between education and the labour market during the COVID-19 pandemic in Italy," Papers 2106.08296,
    7. Brzezinski, Michal, 2021. "The Impact of Past Pandemics on Economic and Gender Inequalities," OSF Preprints zc8gy, Center for Open Science.
    8. Loukas Karabarbounis, 2021. "Comment on "From Mancession to Shecession: Women's Employment in Regular and Pandemic Recessions"," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2021, volume 36, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D13 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Household Production and Intrahouse Allocation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General

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