OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers

This series is designed to make available to a wider readership selected labour market, social policy and migration studies prepared for use within the OECD. Authorship is usually collective, but principal writers are named. The papers are generally available only in their original language - English or French - with a summary in the other.

Anglais, Français

Working during COVID-19

Cross-country evidence from real-time survey data

The outbreak of COVID-19 and the unprecedented measures taken by many countries to slow down the spread of the coronavirus caused large economic and psychological costs. This paper uses real time survey data from two waves run at the end of March and in mid-April to provide a snapshot of the actual labour market outcomes in twelve countries. Our study reveals large cross-country differences. At the end of March, when large disparity existed in the diffusion of the pandemic and in the lockdown measures, a large share of employed individuals had stopped working in France (38%) and Italy (47%), but much less in Australia (13%) and the US (10%). Large differences remained in mid-April. Yet, some common patterns emerge. Labour market outcomes varied according to workers’ educational attainments and occupation types. College graduates and white collars worked more from home and less from the regular workplace. Instead, low educated workers and blue collars were more likely to remain in the regular work place or to stop working. Similar patterns emerge with respect to the workers’ (family) income. This evidence suggests that initial labour market effects of COVID-19 (and of the lockdown measures) may have contributed to increase pre-existing inequalities.


JEL: J21: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure; I30: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: General
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