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The Covid-19 Pandemic and Lockdown: First Effects on Gender Gaps in Employment and Domestic Work in India

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • June 2, 2020
  • Ashwini Deshpande,
  • Ashwini Deshpande

Based on national-level panel data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS) database, this paper investigates the first effects of Covid-19 induced lockdown on employment and hours spent on household work. Identifying roughly over 40,000 individuals surveyed in April 2020 (i.e. during the strict nationwide lockdown) and examining their employment status over the last year, the paper finds that overall employment dropped sharply post-lockdown, with no change in the pre-pandemic time periods. This drop in employment was not gender neutral. Given the large pre-existing gender gaps in employment, in absolute terms, more men lost employment than women. However, conditional on being employed pre-lockdown, women were roughly 20 percentage points less likely to be employed than men who were employed pre-lockdown. India has amongst the most unequal gender division of household work globally. Comparing hours spent on domestic work pre- and post-lockdown, we find that for both men and women, hours spent on domestic work increased during lockdown, with the increase being higher for women than men. The gender gap in average hours spent on domestic work hours increased post-lockdown, but most states showed a decline in the gender gap due to a shift in the male distribution of hours. The male distribution continues to be right-skewed, but the proportions of men doing between 0.5 to 4 hours of housework per day increased post-lockdown.

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