Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 on Economic and Retirement Security
The COVID-19 pandemic had severe impacts on the U.S. labor market with particularly large effects on working women. We use longitudinal survey data from a nationally representative internet panel to (1) document the pandemic’s gendered effects on employment and short-term financial stability and examine heterogeneity by race and ethnicity, marital status and household composition, and (2) use respondents’ earnings histories and expectations about future labor market participation and retirement age to forecast the impact on Social Security retirement benefits. Overall, while we find evidence that women suffered larger employment losses than men during the pandemic, consistent with prior research, our evidence suggests that the gender gap in employment was driven, at least in part, by women from traditionally more economically advantaged groups — white women, married women, and women in households with high incomes — leaving the workforce. We find little evidence that gender disparities in short-term economic stability grew as a result of the gender differences in employment. Rather our estimates suggest that gender gaps in short-term financial stability decreased over the first year of the pandemic, in part due heterogeneous effects from the stimulus. Despite the gender differences in employment dynamics for certain groups, we find no evidence of differential impacts on our forecasts for Social Security retirement benefits. Collectively, our evidence is consistent with the possibility that gender difference in employment was driven in part by relatively financially stable women voluntarily leaving the workforce.
- Women were more likely than men to exit the labor force early in the pandemic.
- Gender differences in employment were driven by white women, married women with young children, and women in high income households.
- Rather than increasing, we find that gender differences in short-term financial stability decreased during the pandemic’s first year, in part due to heterogeneous impacts of the stimulus.
- There are no differential impacts by gender on changes to the forecasted levels of Social Security retirement benefits.
- Overall, our evidence is consistent with gender differences in employment being driven by relatively financially stable women voluntarily exiting the workforce.
Prados, María J., and Jeremy Burke. 2022. “Gendered Impacts of COVID-19 on Economic and Retirement Security.” Ann Arbor, MI. University of Michigan Retirement and Disability Research Center (MRDRC) Working Paper; MRDRC WP 2022-447. https://mrdrc.isr.umich.edu/publications/papers/pdf/wp447.pdf
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Paper IDWP 2022-447