How Did the COVID-19 Crisis Affect Different Types of Workers in the Developing World?
The paper titled "How Did the COVID-19 Crisis Affect Different Types of Workers in the Developing World?" by Maurice Kugler, Mariana Viollaz, Daniel Duque, Isis Gaddis, David Newhouse, Amparo Palacios-Lopez and Michael Weber has been published in World Development.
This paper examines how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the employment of different groups of workers across 40 mostly low and middle-income countries. Employment outcomes during the crisis are tracked through high-frequency phone surveys conducted by the World Bank and national statistics offices. Our results show that larger shares of female, young, less educated, and urban workers stopped working at the beginning of the pandemic. Gender gaps in work stoppage stemmed mainly from gender differences within sectors rather than differential employment patterns of men and women across sectors. Differences in work stoppage between urban and rural workers were markedly smaller than those across gender, age, and education groups. Preliminary results from 10 countries suggest that following the initial shock at the start of the pandemic, employment rates partially recovered between April and August 2020, with greater gains for those groups that had borne the brunt of the early jobs losses. Although the high-frequency phone surveys over-represent household heads and therefore overestimate employment rates, a validation exercise for five countries suggests that they provide a reasonably accurate measure of disparities in employment levels by gender, education, and urban/rural location following the onset of the crisis, although they perform less well in capturing disparities between age groups. These results shed new light on the distributional labor market consequences of the COVID-19 crisis in developing countries, and suggest that real-time phone surveys, despite their lack of representativeness, are a valuable source of information to measure differential employment impacts across groups during an unfolding crisis.