1 Introduct ion
The COVI D-1 9 crisis is h aving a dramat ic im pact on the world’s w or kforce. The la bou r
m arket di srupt ion s caused b y t he p andem ic af fect all; howe ver, th e r educ tio n i n e cono mic
act ivity is u neve n in di ffer ent eco nom ic se cto rs, re gion s of t he wor ld and gr oup s of pe ople.
Several studies and art icles have warned about the dispr oportion ate social a nd
econ omi c im pac t t his crisi s can ha ve on w ome n1 suggestin g t hat it th reat ens t o slow
down th e pace of m ove t owar ds gender equalit y or even un do som e of the gain s. Th e
conc erns are man ifol d, one i mp ort ant asp ect bei ng th at COVID -19 is li kel y to hea vil y affect
women workers, as a large p roport ion of them are based in sectors sev erely affected by
th e pandem ic.
This not e pr ovid es a f irst de ta iled a sse ssm en t o f th is cla im lo ok ing at t h e 2 7 EU Member
States. It is usin g an d com paring t wo different sect oral classificat ions, bot h based on the
economi c sect ors’ v ulner abili ty to th e COVI D-19 cr isis: one published by the In tern ation al
Labou r Or ganizat ion (ILO) an d t he o ther one by th e Eur opean Centre for the Deve lopm ent
of Vocat ional Training (CEDEFOP). Although using different m ethods, both classifications
aim at assessin g the economic sect ors’ exposure to t he crisis from the per spective of the
economi c – r at her than health - relat ed – risks, which will ultim ately also aff ect the wor k
force employe d in t he gi ven sector .
Our aim is n either to evalu ate these two classif icat ions nor t o t ry t o un derstand th e root s
of th eir diver ging conclusions. Instead we aim at applying both available t ools for a w ell-
inform ed assessm ent of th e issue of gender imbal ances i n the econom ic ef fects of COVID-
19 in the EU. Undoubtedly , makin g this assessm ent at the sectoral level has severa l
limitat ions that arise from t he h igh lev el of aggregati on and t he heter ogeneit y of jobs
car ried out within one economic sect or. One of t he impor tant consequences is that even
wi thi n econom ic sector s classified as econo micall y h igh-risk, large group s of wor kers ar e
fou nd whose activit y was considered to be critical (or essential) during the pandemic. As
in som e of these gr oups – e. g. am ong sal esperson s in super mar kets in t he W holesale an d
ret ail tr ade sector – there is a high concen trat ion of women2, the average unem ployment
risk in certain sectors might be lower for fem ales than for males. At th e sam e time t her e
can also be other factors uneven ly affect ing m ale and f em ale workers within th e same
sect or, and this approach can not accou nt for these.
The rest of this note is str uctured as follows. St ar t in g wi th th e analy sis of ILO, we fir st
pr esent their classificat ion. Second , we link it to t he gen der-di str ibution of work ers acr oss
the economi c sect or s in the EU t o calculate the sh are of em ployed m en and wom en
pot enti ally affected by th e crisis according t o the I LO appr oach. Then w e repeat t he sam e
exerci se applying the classification of CEDEFOP. We conclude b y com parin g th e t wo set s
of r esult s.
1 See e.g. Alon, T., Doepke , M., Olm stead-Rum sey, J., & Tert ilt, M. ( 202 0). The Im pact of COVI D-19 on Gender
Equa lit y a nd Bl askó, Z., Papa dimi trio u, E. , Man ca, A. R., Europ ean Com mi ssion, Joint Resear ch Cen tre. (2 020) .
How wil l th e COVI D-19 crisi s aff ect exist ing gen der divi des i n Eur ope?
2 EUROSTAT r epor ts t hat in 20 19, w ome n re pre sent ed 6 3 p er cen t of th e w orke rs i n r etai l sal e of foo d, beve rag es
and to bacco (ht t ps: / / e c.e uro pa .eu / eur os tat / w eb / pr odu cts -e ur ost at -ne ws/ -/ DD N-20200 52 2- 2)