We have only begun to see the consequences of the economic shutdown, in the form of lay-offs, furloughing and other measures that have been implemented to stop the spread of the virus. The long-term impact on people’s financial situation is difficult to ascertain at this time, and the same applies to analyses of how women and men are being affected.
Unemployment was higher for men than for women even before the economic shutdown. However, the situation may have tough repercussions for groups whose links with the labour market were already tenuous. Such groups include foreign-born women and women with disabilities that reduce their ability to work.
Since the labour market is gender segregated – significantly more women work in certain professions and industries and significantly more men in others – the pandemic may hit with varying force. In many countries, women tend to work more often than men in jobs with fewer financial protections, for example in terms of job security or provision of sick pay.
Since women dominate the public sector and the areas of society where Sweden is going to see strong demand for labour for a long time to come, men are likely to experience more unemployment than women are.
– When schools close, as they have done in many countries, women more often have to stop work to look after the children, and in many countries this affects their income. In Sweden, childcare is generally better organised, which creates better conditions for avoiding any loss of income, explains Eberhard Stüber, senior analyst at the Swedish Gender Equality Agency.
However, there is still gender segregation in the Swedish labour market. When it comes to the areas of employment that are clearly impacted by the pandemic, women are overrepresented in the health service, care and education, while men are overrepresented in commerce and transport, for example. In the hotel and restaurant industry, which has been particularly badly affected by coronavirus, the gender split is around 50-50.
– Unemployment was higher for men than for women even before the economic shutdown. However, the situation may have tough repercussions for groups whose links with the labour market were already tenuous. Such groups include foreign-born women and women with disabilities that reduce their ability to work, says Sara Andersson, senior analyst at the Swedish Gender Equality Agency.
There are also differences in who runs companies, with the vast majority being men. In addition, we can see that men have greater asset ownership than women in Sweden, which can affect their ability to cope with loss of income.