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COVID-19, Income Shocks and Female Employment

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • November 5, 2021
  • Kanika Mahajan,
  • Ishaan Bansal, Kanika Mahajan

Existing evidence shows that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to employed women witnessing larger losses in the labor market in India. We examine the heterogeneity that underlie these trends by studying the impact of Covid-19 induced income shocks on female employment. Using individual level panel data and a difference-in-differences strategy that exploits lockdown timing (April 2020) and accounts for seasonal employment trends, we find that women in households facing a hundred percent reduction in household male income during the lockdown were 1.5 pp (25%) more likely to take up work during the "unlockdown" months (June-August 2020). We also find these results to be predominant in poorer and less educated households. However, these positive employment trends are only transitory in nature with a reversal in female employment in these households from September 2020 onwards. These findings underscore the use of women's labor as insurance during low-income periods by poorer households.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka