Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 in Developing Countries (WP-22-06)
Titan Alon, Matthias Doepke, Kristina Manysheva, and Michèle TertiltIn many high-income economies, the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented declines in women’s employment. The researchers examine how the forces that underlie this observation play out in developing countries, with a specific focus on Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa. A force affecting high- and low-income countries alike is increased childcare needs during school closures; in Nigeria, mothers of school-age children experience the largest declines in employment during the pandemic, just as in high-income countries. A key difference is the role of the sectoral distribution of employment: Whereas in high-income economies reduced employment in contact-intensive services had a large impact on women, this sector plays a minor role in low-income countries. Another difference is that women’s employment rebounded much more quickly in low-income countries. The authors conjecture that large income losses without offsetting government transfers drive up labor supply in low-income countries during the recovery.