AuthorEleni Papadimitriou - Zsuzsa Blaskó
4 Discussion
Fro m the st art of t his c risis exp erts hav e ar gued 12 th at th e COVI D-19 is ve ry d iffer ent fr om
th e “usual” downturns, when it typ icall y a ffects males’ j obs m ore than females’. Previous
stu dies hav e show n t hat m en’s empl oym ent var ies m or e st rong ly o ver th e econ omic cycle s
th an fem ales’ 13, al so b ecaus e men ’s job s t end t o be con cent ra ted in eco nom ic secto rs worse
hit by econom ic crises.14 The specific charact eristics of t he COVI D-19 cr isi s, an d in
particular the social distancing measures, however, cr eat e a sit uation ver y diff erent fr om
th e “u sualdowntur ns and lead t o a poten tially v ery different relat ion b etween m en’s and
wom en’ s exp osure t o t he cr isis.
Whi le it is wid ely a ccepte d th at the ma ssive negat ive imp act of COVI D-19 wi ll b e un eve nly
dist rib uted acros s t he variou s se gm ent s o f t he soci ety , th e ex act ef fect s are yet t o b e se en.
In p articular, we need to wait for t he 2020 EU Lab our Force Sur vey d ata t o g et a
com prehensive pi cture of w hat t emp oral an d lo nger te rm dam ages the cr isis has mad e to
the em ploym ent situ ation of m en and women across Europe. Meanwhile we need to rely
on preliminary sources, such as expert predict ions on how th e different parts of the
econom y a re likely to be af fected.
The present n ote uses two available resources that both aim at identifying the most
vulnerable economic sectors du rin g t he pandemic. Bot h t he I LO and CEDEFOP pr ovi de
syst emat ic, meth odolog ically sound classif ication s of the econom ic sect ors t hat allow us to
assess among many other things th e expected economic vulnerability of m en an d
wom en to the crisis. The two organ izat ions however cla ssify th e economic se ctors
differ en tly, which in t he end leads to qualit atively different conclusions wit h regard both
t o t he size of th e pr oblem ove rall and to the gen der disparities in th e lab our mar ket im pact
of COVI D-19.
Accordin g to the I LOs classif ication, gl obally , w om en ar e at a somewhat higher risk of
losing their j obs than m en. I n the EU h owever, the situation is the opposit e, with a
considerably lar ge r share of m en t ha n women w or king in the high-risk se ct or s.
Thi s is ma inly be cause th e I LO cla ssifi es j obs in mal e-dom inated Ma nuf acturing as be in g
at h igh ris k. This assum ption resu lts in an alar min gly lar ge num ber (89 mi llio n) of peop le
wor kin g in a b adly affected sect or in th e EU, wh ich altoget her em ploys 4 8 p er cent of m ale
workers and 42% of fem ale wor kers. Based to this app roach, w om en’s em plo ymen t in
Europe appears to be m or e vu ln era bl e compared to men’s on ly in Ro mania and
Bulga ria m ostly because in t hese tw o count ries th e share of men and w omen in
Manu facturing is close t o par ity.
If w e, how ever, apply the sectoral classification created by CEDEFOP f or the EU and UK,
we find th at the Eur opean concerns abou t wom en’s increased v ulner abilit y are j usti fied.
Our calculation s show that on t he European average r ou gh ly 44 million j obs can be fou nd
in hi gh-r isk sect ors po tent ial ly a ffect ing 25 per cent of fem ale emp loye es an d 20 per cen t
of ma les. The overall num bers are lo wer and al so men’s share is small er com par ed t o the
ot her estimates m ain ly because th e set of hig h-r isk sect ors in t his case does not inclu de
Manu factu rin g. Fol lowin g t his appr oach, we find th at in 14 EU M em be r S tat es wo me n’s
em pl oym en t i s con sid era bly m ore at r isk, th an th at of m en. To t hes e bel ong several
Central and Eastern European cou ntr ies, inclu ding Bu lgaria, Croatia, Rom ani a, Latvia,
Hungary , Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Czechia, but also Spain, Austria, Ir eland, Italy
an d Ger man y.
We have no objective m easure at hand to assess and compare th e v alidity of t he two
dist inct categor izations offered by ILO and CEDEFOP. Our m ain guide is the considerat ion
th at CEDEFOP m ade it s evaluation for Europ e specif ically and t heref ore w e expect it to be
12 Alon , T. , Doe pke, M., Olmst ead- Rum sey, J., & Tert ilt , M. (20 20) . The Im pact of COVID- 19 on Gen der Equali ty.
39 . https: //www.nber.org/p apers/w26947. pdf
13 Doep ke, Matth ias, and Michèl e Ter tilt . 2 016 . “ Fami lies i n Macroecon om ics.” Chap ter 23 of Handb ook of
Macr oecon omi cs, Vol . 2. Nor th Holla nd.
14 Cosku n, Sena, and Hu snu Dalgi c. 2 020 . “ The Emer genc e of Procy clica l Fert ilit y: Th e Rol e of Gend er Diff eren ces
in Empl oym ent Risk. ” CRC TR 224D iscuss ion Pap er S eries No. 142

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