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How do women weather economic shocks ? a review of the evidence

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  • Sabarwal, Shwetlena
  • Sinha, Nistha
  • Buvinic, Mayra

Abstract

Do women weather economic shocks differently than men? The evidence shows this to be the case, especially in low-income countries. The first-round impacts of economic crises on women's employment should be particularly salient in the current downturn, since women have increased their participation in the globalized workforce and therefore are more directly affected by the contraction of employment than in the past. Crises also have second-round impacts, as vulnerable households respond to declining income with coping strategies that can vary significantly by gender. In the past, women from low-income households have typically entered the labor force, while women from rich households have often exited the labor market in response to economic crises. In contrast, men's labor force participation rates have remained largely unchanged. Evidence also suggests that women defer fertility during economic crises and that child schooling and child survival are adversely affected, mainly in low-income countries, with adverse effects on health being greater for girls than for boys. In middle-income countries, by contrast, the effects on children's schooling and health are more nuanced, and gender differences less salient. Providing women in poor households with income during economic downturns makes economic sense. This paper reviews workfare programs and cash transfers and finds that the former provide poor women with income only when they include specific design features. The latter have been effective in providing mothers with income and protecting the wellbeing of children in periods of economic downturn.

Suggested Citation

  • Sabarwal, Shwetlena & Sinha, Nistha & Buvinic, Mayra, 2010. "How do women weather economic shocks ? a review of the evidence," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5496, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5496
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    3. Ashwini Deshpande, 2022. "The Covid-19 pandemic and gendered division of paid work, domestic chores and leisure: evidence from India’s first wave," Economia Politica: Journal of Analytical and Institutional Economics, Springer;Fondazione Edison, vol. 39(1), pages 75-100, April.
    4. Mayra Buvinic & Monica Das Gupta & Ursula Casabonne & Philip Verwimp, 2013. "Violent Conflict and Gender Inequality: An Overview," The World Bank Research Observer, World Bank, vol. 28(1), pages 110-138, February.
    5. Vani S. Kulkarni & Manoj Pandey & Raghav Gaiha, 2013. "MDGs and gender inequality," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 18813, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    6. Ruohan Wu, 2023. "COVID‐19's impacts on business activities and female workers: Empirical evidence from global developing economies," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 35(1), pages 163-197, January.
    7. Kumar, Neha & Quisumbing, Agnes R., 2013. "Gendered impacts of the 2007–2008 food price crisis: Evidence using panel data from rural Ethiopia," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 11-22.
    8. -, 2014. "Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean 2014: Challenges to sustainable growth in a new external context," Estudio Económico de América Latina y el Caribe, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 37033 edited by Eclac, September.
    9. Shwetlena Sabarwal & Nistha Sinha & Mayra Buvinic, 2011. "How Do Women Weather Economic Shocks? What We Know," World Bank Publications - Reports 10113, The World Bank Group.
    10. Forbes, Kinisha., 2011. "Inequality in crisis and recovery : revealing the divides: the case of Brazil," ILO Working Papers 994698493402676, International Labour Organization.
    11. Kumar, Neha & Quisumbing, Agnes R., 2011. "Gendered impacts of the 2007-08 food price crisis: Evidence using panel data from rural Ethiopia," IFPRI discussion papers 1093, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    12. Kjell G. Salvanes & Barton Willage & Alexander Willén, 2024. "The Effect of Labor Market Shocks across the Life Cycle," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 121-160.
    13. repec:ilo:ilowps:466165 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Chiara Piovani & Nursel Aydiner-Avsar, 2015. "The Gender Impact of Social Protection Policies: A Critical Review of the Evidence," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(3), pages 410-441, July.
    15. Kosec, Katrina & Mo, Cecilia Hyunjung & Schmidt, Emily & Song, Jie, 2021. "Perceptions of relative deprivation and women’s empowerment," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 138(C).
    16. repec:ilo:ilowps:469849 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Sabarwal, Shwetlena & Sinha, Nistha & Buvinic, Mayra, 2011. "How Do Women Weather Economic Shocks? What We Know," World Bank - Economic Premise, The World Bank, issue 46, pages 1-6, January.
    18. -, 2014. "Estudio Económico de América Latina y el Caribe 2014: desafíos para la sostenibilidad del crecimiento en un nuevo contexto externo," Estudio Económico de América Latina y el Caribe, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 36970 edited by Cepal, September.
    19. Forbes, Kinisha., 2011. "Inequality in crisis and recovery : revealing the divides: the case of the Republic of Korea," ILO Working Papers 994661653402676, International Labour Organization.
    20. Deshpande, Ashwini, 2020. "The COVID-19 Pandemic and Gendered Division of Paid and Unpaid Work: Evidence from India," IZA Discussion Papers 13815, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    Keywords

    Labor Markets; Population Policies; Labor Policies; Gender and Development; Health Monitoring&Evaluation;
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