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Women hit hardest by Covid recession, says Luxembourg report

Women hit hardest by Covid recession, says Luxembourg report

by Kate OGLESBY 2 min. 23.08.2021
Reasons included women more likely to take time off for childcare when schools and nurseries closed
Part of Luxembourg's financial district in Kirchberg
Part of Luxembourg's financial district in Kirchberg
Photo credit: Anouk Antony

Women across the world were more negatively affected by the recession during the pandemic than men, a study by a Luxembourg research body said.

Luxembourg fell into a recession in the second quarter of last year, when Gross Domestic Product or GDP decreased by 7.2%, the biggest fall ever registered in Luxembourg. Many other countries in Europe and across the world also saw their economies slump as many companies put staff on furlough or laid off workers, after being forced to close to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

But this recession was different to others in that it had more of a negative effect on women than it did on men, the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research (LISER) said in its report.

“Nearly all modern recessions have had one thing in common: men’s employment has been affected significantly more than that of women,” the study said. “At least this was the case until 2020, with the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“Not only has it been unique in terms of its origin, but also in terms of its impact on the labour market: for the first time women were significantly more likely than men to be laid off, furloughed or to experience a reduction in working hours,” it added.

The Covid recession negatively affected women’s employment for four main reasons, the report said.

Women were more likely to be in part-time jobs, which meant they were less protected than those in full time employment, and many significantly reduced their working hours because of increased childcare needs caused by school and nursery closures.

“Although the number of hours spent on childcare by fathers has increased compared to pre-Covid-19 times, mothers have taken on most of the additional childcare during the pandemic,” the report said.

A high percentage of women were employed in low and medium waged jobs, rather than managerial roles – which were easier to transfer to remote working, researchers found. This in turn increased the likelihood of women being laid off, furloughed or having their formal working hours reduced.

Women also tended to be over-represented in occupations that were hardest hit by lockdowns and social-distancing measures, the report also said. The pandemic recession impacted mainly the hospitality and tourism sectors where there is a high share of women working whereas usual recessions affect sectors such as construction and manufacturing, in which many men work, researcher Sena Coskun said in the report.

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