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Working Mothers' Dilemma During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Evidence from China


E2023006                                                        2023-02-21

Dandan Zhang

  Yaxuan Liu 

Yiling Zhao


There is increasing evidence from developed countries showing that the COVID-19 recession disproportionately impacted the female labor force, causing a “She-cession”. This paper investigates the magnitude of the “She-cession” in China. Using a unique three-wave employee tracking survey of China in 2020, we portrayed the temporal impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on working women during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results show a widening gender gap in unemployment, hours worked, and monthly salary throughout 2020. Marital status and children exacerbated the gender gaps; as expected, working mothers with a child aged 0-6 experienced the most adverse labor market outcomes. We conclude by showing that the labor market disruption had severe consequences for working mother’s mental well-being, highlighting the contributing factors of women’s worse mental well-being in work status and time use. Working fathers with a child under 7 were also severely affected, although not immediately.

Keywords: Gender Disparities; COVID-19; Labor Market; Mental Health; China

JEL Classification Code: I12; J20; I18