« Back to Results

Gender Disparities in the Impacts of COVID-19

Paper Session

Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM (CST)

Grand Hyatt, Lone Star Ballroom Salon A
Hosted By: American Economic Association & Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession
  • Chair: Yana Rodgers, Rutgers University

The Influence of Pandemics on Women's Labor Market Expectations and Job Search Behavior

Catalina Herrera-Almanza
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
S Anukriti
World Bank
Sophie Ochmann
University of Gottingen


The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically slowed economic activity worldwide as governments implemented
containment measures affecting firms' demand for labor and workers' ability and willingness to work. The
negative effect of the pandemic on employment was disproportionately borne by women (“she-cession”)
due to greater disruptions in female-dominated industries and occupations, and a larger increase in
childcare burden upon school closures. We examine whether exposure to the pandemic influenced labor
market expectations and aspirations of young women who were about to transition from school to work.
We focus on female vocational trainees in India and study how pandemic-induced disruptions to their
training programs and negative shocks experienced by their households influenced their reservation wage,
expected salary, job preferences, and perceived employment barriers. The study of how COVID-19 has
affected women’s labor market prospects is crucial for understanding its longer-term impact on female
labor force participation as expectations are critical determinants of labor market choices.
Using the baseline survey of a randomized control trial aiming to reduce informational barriers among
these female trainees, we estimate the effect of COVID-19 using two different definitions of “exposure”
to mitigate endogeneity concerns. First, we create a “leave-one-out” COVID-19 measure for each woman
in our sample by calculating the share of other respondents from her vocational institution that reported
being exposed to a COVID-19 shock. We then regress our outcomes of interest on these individual-level
exposure variables, a rich set of controls, and district-fixed effects. Second, we estimate our models using an “aggregate COVID-19 shock” defined as the population-adjusted district-level total number of COVID-19 deaths to validate our estimations using self-reported exposure. Our preliminary results show that the pandemic decreased women’s reservation wage and expected salary. Further analysis will explore effects on additional labor market expectation outcomes and analyze heterogeneity by respondents’ personality traits, agency, and community-level social norms.

The COVID-19 Pandemic Accelerated Automation: What Does this Mean for Women, Black and Brown Workers?

Ryan Perry
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Kristen Broady
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
Darlene Booth-Bell
Coastal Carolina University


The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends in automation as many employers seek to save
on labor costs amid widespread illness, increased worker leverage, and market pressures to onshore
supply chains. While existing research has explored how automation may displace non-specialized
jobs, there is typically less attention paid to how this displacement may interact with preexisting
structural issues around gender and racial inequality. This analysis updates that of a 2021
Brookings paper by the authors, finding that Black and Hispanic workers continue to be
overrepresented in the 30 occupations with the highest estimated risk of automation and
underrepresented in the 30 occupations with the lowest estimated risk of automation. The updated
analysis also includes new attention to automation’s impact on women workers, wage structures,
a consideration of the broader implications of automation for global economics, and a discussion
of the potential interplay of automation with recent developments in artificial intelligence.

Academic Profile of Chinese Economists: Productivity, Pay, Time Use, Gender Differences, and Impacts of COVID-19

Yang Jiao
Texas A&M University-Texarkana
Li Qi
Agnes Scott College
Zhuo Chen
University of Georgia


Using two waves of surveys (2019 and 2021) among Chinese economists with support from the Chinese Economists Society (CES), we capture a current profile of Chinese academic economists on their demographics, education, academic rank, wage, time use, research interests, and productivity. Our data reveal many similarities among those employed in China and overseas, with statistically significant differences in pay, and teaching load. More profound disparities lie in gender comparisons, with findings echoing the recent trend in the overall economics profession, including career advancement challenges for women and lower pay for female economists, among others. Finally, this paper investigates the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Chinese economists. Compared with their time allocation prior to the pandemic, male economists with children were able to spend slightly more time per workday on research and leisure during the pandemic. On the contrary, female economists with children lost time for research to cope with increased demands for childcare.

Locked in the House, Free Again: The Impact of COVID-19 on Fertility in Spain

Sofia Trommlerová
Comenius University Bratislava
Libertad González


We focus on a high-income, low-fertility country Spain and estimate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility. Specifically, we distinguish between the impact of a strict lockdown during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the subsequent post-lockdown relief. Spain was one of the two most COVID-19-affected countries in Europe and it imposed one of the strictest lockdowns on the continent. In the analysis, we exploit the unexpected announcement and immediate implementation of a strict, nationwide lockdown which started in mid-March 2020 and lasted for 8 weeks, until mid-May 2020. Apart from lockdown, we also consider the period of relief after the end of lockdown. We first predict the expected levels of fertility in the absence of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. We choose one of 14 competing models with the best prediction quality based on four cross-validation criteria. Afterwards, we calculate the differences between predicted and actual fertility levels 9 months after the lockdown (lockdown in spring 2020, fertility affected in winter 2020) and also 9 months after the post-lockdown relief (post-lockdown as of summer 2020, fertility affected starting in spring 2021). We find that overall, lockdown had a very negative effect on fertility (-16.2% in the two most affected months) while the post-lockdown relief led to an increased fertility (3.5% during a 10-month period). The net effect for whole Spain is -0.4% but it is driven by a decrease in births to foreign mothers (-17.7% overall). When focusing on Spanish mothers only, the overall effect is positive (4.6%). In a heterogeneity analysis of Spanish mothers by cohabitation status, parity, and age, we find that virtually all groups experienced an overall positive net effect (3-11%) with the exception of very young mothers (ages 15-24).

Aashima Sinha
Levy Economics Institute
Amalia Miller
University of Virginia
Carl Lin
Bucknell University
Ina Ganguli
University of Massachusetts-Amherst
JEL Classifications
  • I0 - General
  • I3 - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty