Gender and Employment in the COVID-19 Recession: Evidence on “She-cessions”


John C Bluedorn ; Francesca G Caselli ; Niels-Jakob H Hansen ; Ippei Shibata ; Marina Mendes Tavares

Publication Date:

March 31, 2021

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.


Early evidence on the pandemic’s effects pointed to women’s employment falling disproportionately, leading observers to call a “she-cession.” This paper documents the extent and persistence of this phenomenon in a quarterly sample of 38 advanced and emerging market economies. We show that there is a large degree of heterogeneity across countries, with over half to two-thirds exhibiting larger declines in women’s than men’s employment rates. These gender differences in COVID-19’s effects are typically short-lived, lasting only a quarter or two on average. We also show that she-cessions are strongly related to COVID-19’s impacts on gender shares in employment within sectors.


Working Paper No. 2021/095




Publication Date:

March 31, 2021



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