Finance and Economics Discussion Series (FEDS)
October 2021 (Revised July 2023)
Women's Labor Force Exits during COVID-19: Differences by Motherhood, Race, and Ethnicity
Katherine Lim and Mike Zabek
While the descriptive impacts of the pandemic on women have been well documented in the aggregate, we know much less about the impacts of the pandemic on different groups of women. After controlling for detailed job and demographic characteristics, including occupation and industry, we find that the pandemic led to significant excess labor force exits among women living with children under age six relative to women without children. We also find evidence of larger increases in exits among lower-earning women. The presence of children predicted larger increases in exits during the pandemic among Latina and Black women relative to White women. Overall, we find evidence that pandemic induced disruptions to childcare, including informal care from family and friends. Our results suggest that the unique effect of childcare disruptions during the pandemic exacerbated pre-existing racial and income inequalities among women.
Keywords: Women, Labor Force Participation, Race, Ethnicity, Labor Supply, COVID-19
PDF: Full Paper
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