Gender

Simeon Djankov, Eva (Yiwen) Zhang, 26 November 2020

The rebound in jobs for men in the US was swift after the initial weeks of the Covid pandemic, but not so for women. This column highlights three areas for change to alleviate the burden on working women in the US. First, legal changes are needed to both federal and state-level regulation, with a particular focus on parental leave and pension rules. Second, vocational training incentives with a particular focus on women are needed. Third, future recovery programmes may do well to take the actual gender pay gap – factoring in unpaid work that women do in the household – into consideration.

Claudia Hupkau, Barbara Petrongolo, 23 November 2020

The second lockdown in the UK is raising many questions about the impact on the economy and on society more broadly, including the implications for gender equality in the workplace and at home. This column uses household survey data to show that at the start of the pandemic in the UK, men were slightly more likely than women to be furloughed and to experience earnings losses, but by late summer the gender differential in furlough rates had reversed. Women also provided for a larger share of increased childcare needs on average, although in an important share of households, fathers became the primary childcare providers during the first lockdown. Sectors with a large share of female employment are now subjected to the second lockdown. These changes may have longer-term consequences on gender inequalities if they eventually reshape the reorganisation of work and family life.

Sonia Bhalotra, 13 November 2020

There has been a global surge in domestic violence since the onset of Covid-19. This column provides insights into what may be driving this rise, drawing on evidence from Brazil. Job loss leads to increases in domestic violence, irrespective of whether it is the perpetrator or victim whose job is lost. Both income stress and an increase in time spent together seem to contribute to this. Unemployment benefits have mitigation potential if they can be supplemented by policies designed to encourage a return to work. 

Graziella Bertocchi, Monica Bozzano, 05 October 2020

For most of history, women have been undereducated relative to men. While the gender gap in education has closed – and even reversed – in recent times, sharp differences still exist across levels of education and countries. Even where women have outpaced men in educational attainment, gender gaps in employment, entrepreneurship and politics persist. Women are visibly underrepresented in STEM and economics – fields typically lead to higher employability and wages. This column reviews the historical roots of the gender gap, which, despite changing conditions and incentives, continue to exert an influence through labour markets, family formation dynamics, and cultural factors. 

Ghazala Azmat, Lena Hensvik, Olof Rosenqvist, 04 October 2020

The recent COVID-19 public health crisis has – at least temporarily – changed the organisation of work and the requirement for presenteeism in the workplace. Using data from Sweden, this column argues that such change could help close the gender earnings gap by lowering the wage penalties to unpredictable work absence. 

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