Research of Prof. Couch on COVID and Gender Inequality published in Economic Inquiry

Research of Professor Ken Couch and his co-authors, Robert Fairlie and Huanan Xu exploring women’s labor market experiences relative to men’s during the COVID-19 pandemic has been published in Economic Inquiry.

The paper, “The Evolving Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Gender Inequality in the US Labor Market:  The COVID Motherhood Penalty” can be found on the journal web site and is available under open access at this link:


We explore whether COVID-19 disproportionately affected women in the labor market using Current Population Survey data through the end of 2020. We find that male–female gaps in the employment-to-population ratio and hours worked for women with school-age children have widened but not for those with younger children. Triple-difference estimates are consistent with most of the reductions observed for women with school-age children being attributable to additional childcare responsibilities (the “COVID motherhood penalty”). Conducting decompositions, we find women had a greater likelihood to telework, higher education levels and a less-impacted occupational distribution, which all contributed to lessening negative impacts relative to men.