The impact of COVID-19 on women's labour market outcomes : evidence from four MENA countries
PurposeCOVID-19 has had various effects on women's labour supply worldwide. This study investigates how women's labour market outcomes in the MENA region have been affected by the stringency of governments' COVID-19 responses and school closures. We examine whether women, particularly those with children at young age, reduced their labour supply to take care of their families during the pandemic.Design/methodology/approachTo investigate whether having a family results in an extra penalty to women's labour market outcomes, we compare single women to married women and mothers. Using the ERF COVID-19 MENA Monitor Household Surveys, we analyse the key conditions underlying women's labour market outcomes: (1) wage earnings and labour market status including remaining formally employed, informally, unpaid or self-employed, unemployed or out of the labour force and (2) becoming permanently terminated, being suspended, seeing a reduction in the hours worked or wages, or seeing a delay in one's wage payments because of COVID-19. Ordered probit and multinomial logit are employed in the case of categorical outcomes, and linear models for wage earnings.FindingsWomen, regardless of whether they have children or not, appear to join the labour market out of necessity to help their families in the times of crisis. Child-caring women who are economically inactive are also more likely to enter the labour market. There is little difference between the negative experiences of women with children and child-free women in regard to their monthly pay reduction or delay, or contract termination, but women with children were more likely to experience reduction in hours worked throughout the pandemic.Research limitations/implicationsThese findings may not have causal interpretation facilitating accurate inference. This is because of potential omitted variables such as endogenous motivation of women in different circumstances, latent changes in the division of domestic work between care-giving and other household members, or selective sample attrition.Originality/valueOur analysis explores the multiple channels in which the pandemic has affected the labour outcomes of MENA-region women. Our findings highlight the challenges that hamper the labour market participation of women, and suggest that public policy should strive to balance the share of unpaid care work between men and women and increase men's involvement, through measures that support child-bearing age women's engagement in the private sector during crises, invest in childcare services and support decent job creation for all.
Source (journal)
International journal of manpower. - Bingley
Leeds : Emerald group publishing ltd , 2024
(2024) , 21 p.
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
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Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Creation 02.05.2024
Last edited 16.05.2024
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