Women bear brunt of coronavirus economic shutdown in UK and US

New data shows women and people who did not go to university are more likely to have lost work and earnings since mid-March.

  Chef in Soho, London.  Credit: Craig Whitehead

Women on both sides of the Atlantic are more likely to have lost their jobs or suffered a fall in earnings since the coronavirus pandemic took hold – even after accounting for differences in types of occupation, a new study suggests.

Economists from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Zurich have collected two waves of data in the UK and the US – the first toward the end of March and then again in the middle of April – from almost 15,000 people.

The second wave of data from mid-April suggests that – across gender, age and occupation – a total of 15% of the UK population have lost their jobs due to the economic impact of coronavirus. In the US it’s even higher: a total of 18%.

However, significantly higher rates of women and workers without a degree had experienced job loss or wage drops in the four weeks prior to questioning, compared to men and those with a university education.

In the UK, 13% of workers with a degree lost their job compared to 18% without a university education. In the US, the rate of job loss was 22% for those without a college degree compared to 15% of college-educated workers.

Women in the UK are four percentage points more likely to have lost their job than men, with 17% of women newly unemployed compared to 13% of men. The gap in the US was even wider: 21% of women compared to 14% of men. 

The researchers found that this gender gap in job loss due to coronavirus persisted even after controlling for education, occupation and regional location within each nation.

“We found that people without university degrees are more likely to be working in jobs with tasks that just can’t be done from home, making them more vulnerable to loss of employment,” said Dr Christopher Rauh, a report author from the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Economics.  

“While we can fully explain the education gap for job loss probabilities by differences in the types of work, the same is simply not true for the gender gap we see in job loss,” he said.

Despite this, the survey study found that – on average across both countries – women are more optimistic than men about their chances of keeping their job going forward.

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Image:  Chef in Soho, London.

Credit: Craig Whitehead

Reproduced courtesy of the University of Cambridge

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