2022 Best EI Article Award Announced!

"The evolving impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender inequality in the US labor market: The COVID motherhood penalty"

The Editors of Economic Inquiry are pleased to congratulate the recipients of the 2022 Best Article Award!

  • Kenneth A. Couch, University of Connecticut
  • Robert W. Fairlie, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Huanan Xu, Indiana University South Bend

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted everyone's lives in a variety of ways as shutdowns changed the way we worked, went to school and looked after our families. Even early on in the pandemic there was clear evidence that women were suffering a disproportionate share of the burden compared to men and that there could be long term impacts on their labor market outcomes. This paper provides a very detailed look at some of the longer term impacts on men and women during the pandemic to not only document the potential differences in outcomes on the two groups but to also better understand why women were shouldering such an increased burden. Among the possibilities were that women in general were treated less well than men in the labor market, it was the nature of the jobs that women tend to have more often which were most effected or that it had to do with unequal burdens of childcare at home spilling over into labor market outcomes.  The paper finds that women were more likely have jobs that could be done remotely which would be expected to balance things in their favor during shutdowns but they were also more likely to be in "non-essential'' industries making their jobs perhaps more precarious at the same time which offset that advantage. The main finding though is that women with school age children, ages 6-17, suffered much more dramatic labor market difficulties than women without school age children or men regardless of their parental status. The explanation of that difference seems clear. This paper does an excellent job of very carefully identifying these job market impacts and clarifying exactly what happened as a result of the shutdowns. Understanding the detailed nature of these impacts of COVID-19 on labor market outcomes is important if we are to find ways to not let the short-run impacts of COVID-19 turn into long-run impacts that systematically disadvantage women in the workforce.

We invite you to check it out online here...

"The evolving impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender inequality in the US labor market: The COVID motherhood penalty"