Why Labor Market Inequality Has Grown Worldwide Under COVID

Why Labor Market Inequality Has Grown Worldwide Under COVID

A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF LABOR MARKETS IN 12 COUNTRIES CONFIRMS THE DISPARITIES OBSERVED BY VINCENZO GALASSO FOR ITALY ON A GLOBAL SCALE

Vincenzo Galasso, in a research for the COVID Crisis Lab, had already shown that the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hit the weakest segments of the labor market. Today another study of his, carried out with Martial Foucault of Sciences Po-Paris, as part of an international project that includes 12 countries (REPEAT - REpresentations, PErceptions and ATtitudes on the COVID-19) confirms on a global scale the disparities observed for Italy.
 
The analysis starts from the results of a survey conducted in Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, Sweden, United Kingdom and USA on a sample of at least 1,000 people per country who were asked about their work situation.
 
The study highlights that least educated have been the worst hit by the pandemic. University graduates and individuals with higher incomes are overrepresented among those who were able to continue working from home (the highest figures are recorded in New Zealand with 71%, UK 62% and Italy 61%) while among high-school graduates only 24% continued to work in smartworking mode in Germany and 33% in Italy.
 
Disparities also emerge when analyzing the type of work. In France and Austria, for example, two out of three blue collars continued to work in their usual place of work, hence exposing themselves to an increased risk of contagion. White collar workers, on the other hand, were able to work more from home (about 2/3 in France and Italy and 3/4 in the UK) and recorded less inactive (11% in France, 14% in the UK and 18% in Italy). Low-income workers (50% in Canada) and blue collar workers (50% in Italy and the UK) were the ones with the highest probability of having to stop working altogether.
 
“The sudden shutdown of non-core activities and social distancing measures mainly affected the most vulnerable workers: those with temporary contracts, low levels of education and blue collars. Not even the adjustments adopted by many companies to respond to the lockdown have been of great help to these people", comments Galasso.
 
In terms of gender differences, women were working from home more frequently than men (except for Austria and Sweden) while in half of the countries women remained more inactive than men (40% versus 28% in Brazil, 38% versus 30% in Italy).
 
It should also be noted that these emerging inequalities have an impact on the level of life satisfaction. In almost all countries, those who worked from home were more satisfied.
 
“Of course, the lockdown did not make anyone happy. But many educated workers, equipped with fast internet access, computers and tablets, were able to work from home, perhaps even helping their children with online education. Education and digital infrastructure have mitigated the shock of the coronavirus for some, but the digital divide has been one of the factors that has increased the level of inequality,” concludes Galasso.
 
Martial Foucault, Vincenzo Galasso, “Working after COVID-19: Cross Country Evidence from Real-Time Survey Data”, Sciences Po Publications 9.

by Tomaso Eridani

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