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Italian Workers at Risk During the Covid-19 Epidemic


  • Barbieri, Teresa
  • Basso, Gaetano
  • Scicchitano, Sergio


We analyse the content of Italian occupations operating in about 600 sectors with a focus on the dimensions that expose workers to contagion risks during the COVID-19 epidemics. To do so we leverage extremely detailed and granular information from ICP, the Italian equivalent of O*Net. We find that several sectors need physical proximity to operate: the workers employed in Italy in sectors whose physical proximity index is above the national average are more than 6.5 million (most of them in retail trade). Groups at risk of contagion and complications from COVID-19 (mainly male above the age of 50) work in sectors that are little exposed to physical proximity, currently under lockdown or can work remotely. The sectoral lockdowns put in place by the Italian Government in March 2020 seem to have targeted sectors who operate in physical proximity, but not those directly exposed to infections (the health industry is not subject to lockdown). Most workers who can operate from home have not been put under lockdown and are currently working. Therefore, the number of workers who are not in workplaces could be up to 3 million higher than those whose sector has been shutdown.

Suggested Citation

  • Barbieri, Teresa & Basso, Gaetano & Scicchitano, Sergio, 2020. "Italian Workers at Risk During the Covid-19 Epidemic," GLO Discussion Paper Series 513, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:513

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jérôme Adda, 2016. "Economic Activity and the Spread of Viral Diseases: Evidence from High Frequency Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(2), pages 891-941.
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    4. repec:fip:l00001:87739 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Gaetano Basso & Tito Boeri & Alessandro Caiumi & Marco Paccagnella, 2020. "The new hazardous jobs and worker reallocation," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 247, OECD Publishing.
    2. Daniela Del Boca & Noemi Oggero & Paola Profeta & Maria Cristina Rossi, 2020. "Women’s Work, Housework and Childcare, before and during COVID-19," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 613, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    3. Crowley, Frank & Daly, Hannah & Doran, Justin & Ryan, Geraldine, 2020. "COVID-19, social distancing, remote work and transport choice," SRERC Working Paper Series SRERCWP2020-4, University College Cork (UCC), Spatial and Regional Economic Research Centre (SRERC).
    4. Armanda Cetrulo & Dario Guarascio & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2020. "The Privilege of Working From Home at the Time of Social Distancing," Intereconomics: Review of European Economic Policy, Springer;ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics;Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), vol. 55(3), pages 142-147, May.
    5. Armanda Cetrulo & Dario Guarascio & Maria Enrica Virgillito, 2020. "Working from home and the explosion of enduring divides: income, employment and safety risks," LEM Papers Series 2020/38, Laboratory of Economics and Management (LEM), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy.
    6. Daniela Del Boca & Noemi Oggero & Paola Profeta & Maria Cristina Rossi, 2020. "Women’s Work, Housework and Childcare, Before and During COVID-19," Working Papers 2020-043, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    7. Daniela Del Boca & Noemi Oggero & Paola Profeta & Mariacristina Rossi, 2020. "Women’s and men’s work, housework and childcare, before and during COVID-19," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 18(4), pages 1001-1017, December.
    8. Nicola Borri & Francesco Drago & Chiara Santantonio & Francesco Sobbrio, 2020. "The "Great Lockdown": Inactive Workers and Mortality by Covid-19," CESifo Working Paper Series 8584, CESifo.
    9. Agar Brugiavini & Raluca E. Buia & Irene Simonetti, 2021. "Occupation and working outcomes during the Coronavirus Pandemic," Working Papers 2021:09, Department of Economics, University of Venice "Ca' Foscari".
    10. Raffaele Giammetti & Luca Papi & Désirée Teobaldelli & Davide Ticchi, 0. "The Italian value chain in the pandemic: the input–output impact of Covid-19 lockdown," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 0, pages 1-15.
    11. Raffaele Giammetti & Luca Papi & Désirée Teobaldelli & Davide Ticchi, 2020. "The Italian value chain in the pandemic: the input–output impact of Covid-19 lockdown," Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, Springer;Associazione Amici di Economia e Politica Industriale, vol. 47(3), pages 483-497, September.
    12. Caselli, Mauro & Fracasso, Andrea & Scicchitano, Sergio, 2020. "From the lockdown to the new normal: An analysis of the limitations to individual mobility in Italy following the Covid-19 crisis," GLO Discussion Paper Series 683, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    13. Gaetano Basso & Adele Grompone & Francesca Modena, 2021. "The (little) reallocation potential of workers most hit by the Covid-19 crisis," Questioni di Economia e Finanza (Occasional Papers) 597, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    14. Francesco Flaviano Russo, 2020. "Epidemics and Policy: The Dismal Trade-off," CSEF Working Papers 570, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
    15. Perugini, Cristiano & Vladisavljević, Marko, 2020. "Social Stability Challenged: Pandemics, Inequality and Policy Responses," IZA Discussion Papers 13249, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
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    17. Alipour, Jean-Victor & Fadinger, Harald & Schymik, Jan, 2020. "My Home Is My Castle -- The Benefits of Working from Home During a Pandemic Crisis: Evidence from Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 14871, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    18. Bonacini, Luca & Gallo, Giovanni & Scicchitano, Sergio, 2020. "All that glitters is not gold. Effects of working from home on income inequality at the time of COVID-19," GLO Discussion Paper Series 541, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    19. Colagrossi, M. & Deiana, C. & Geraci, A. & Giua, L., 2021. "Hang Up on Stereotypes: Domestic Violence and Anti-Abuse Helpline Campaign," Health, Econometrics and Data Group (HEDG) Working Papers 21/04, HEDG, c/o Department of Economics, University of York.
    20. Luca Bonacini & Giovanni Gallo & Sergio Scicchitano, 2021. "Working from home and income inequality: risks of a ‘new normal’ with COVID-19," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 34(1), pages 303-360, January.
    21. Cerqua, Augusto & Letta, Marco, 2020. "Local economies amidst the COVID-19 crisis in Italy: a tale of diverging trajectories," MPRA Paper 104404, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item


    Working conditions; Safety; Crisis policies; COVID-19 epidemics;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J28 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Safety; Job Satisfaction; Related Public Policy
    • J81 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - Working Conditions
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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