If you’ve been wondering, “Who has suffered economically the most from the COVID-19 pandemic?” there exists a wealth of data taken from 28 countries, but focused on the U.S. and Canada, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK that makes the answer clear… women, especially single mothers, with children of school age… but no college degree, who happen, especially in the United States, disproportionately to be middle- or low-income women of color.
This should come as no surprise for a variety of reasons, most obviously, because the social and political logic leading to that economic reality is itself well-known.But beyond that, these disparities in employment and income were predictable and were, in fact, predicted as early as last April in an article coauthored by our guest today economist Matthias Koepke of Northwestern University.
Because of the jobs they did and the places where they did them and because of their lionness’ share of childcare responsibilities, women saw the pandemic put a target on their backs.
Still, the uniqueness of the pandemic recession — that it is the first such economic eruption to disproportionately affect women — seems to have caught governments, especially the American government, unprepared. Since last March, when global economic paralysis really started to take hold, various governments have tried to respond, to protect women, their families and their contribution to their national economies. Some have done more than others, some have done better than others, but few responded as slowly as the United States.
Now that it appears that the U.S. and parts of the economically developed world are beginning their recovery from the pandemic, a “new normal” is on its way. For women, predictions are that their recovery of jobs and pay will be slower and more difficult than for men.
Is there anything government can do to mitigate the injustice, and should it? Is there anything to be learned from the UK or Spain?
Matthias Doepke is a Professor of Economics at Northwestern University. His research deals with topics in economic growth and development, political economy, and monetary economics. Recently, he has worked on theories of demographic change, family economics, the role of political and cultural change in economic development, and redistributional effects of inflation. He is a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research , editor of the Review of Economic Dynamics, and an associate editor of the American Economic Review.