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Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 in Developing Countries (WP-22-06)

Titan Alon, Matthias Doepke, Kristina Manysheva, and Michèle Tertilt

In 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.

This paper is published in AEA Papers and Proceedings.

Titan Alon, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California San Diego

Matthias Doepke, Gerald F. and Marjorie G. Fitzgerald Professor of Economic History and IPR Associate, Northwestern University

Kristina Manysheva, Department of Economics, Northwestern University

Michèle Tertilt, Professor of Economics, University of Mannheim

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