Autor: Marchionni Mariana, Berniell Inés, Gaspatini Leonardo, Viollaz Mariana
JEL: D63, J01, J16, J22
Asymmetry in childcare responsibilities is one of the main reasons behind gender gaps in the labor market. In that context, the ability to work from home may alleviate the hindrances of women with children to participate in the labor market. We study these issues in Latin America, a region with wide gender gaps, in the framework of a major shock that severely affected employment: the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we estimate models of job loss exploiting micro data from the World Bank’ s high-frequency phone household surveys conducted immediately after the onset of the pandemic. We find that the mitigating effect of working from home on the severity of job losses was especially relevant for women with children. These effects were larger in countries/periods in which the containment measures implemented by governments against the spread of the disease were more stringent. The results are consistent with a plausible mechanism: due to the traditional distribution of childcare responsibilities within the household, women with children were more likely to stay home during school closures, and therefore the ability to work from home was crucial for them to keep their jobs.