The gendered effects of the Covid-19 crisis and ongoing lockdown in South Africa: Evidence from NIDS-CRAM Waves 1-3

Type Working Paper - NIDS-CRAM Working Paper
Title The gendered effects of the Covid-19 crisis and ongoing lockdown in South Africa: Evidence from NIDS-CRAM Waves 1-3
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2021
Globally, women appear to have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis. In South Africa, research using Waves 1 and 2 of the National Income Dynamics Study- Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) found that women were particularly hard hit by the initial lockdown phases and school closures, both in terms of labour market outcomes and childcare responsibilities (Casale and Posel 2020; Casale and Shepherd 2020). In this policy paper update, we continue to track gendered outcomes in the labour market and in unpaid care work in the home using the recently-released third wave of the NIDS-CRAM data. With the move from Level 3 lockdown in June to the much less restrictive Level 1 lockdown in October, we find a substantial recovery in employment of roughly 2 million net jobs among adults aged 18 and over, shared almost equally between men and women. However, given how much larger the fall in women’s employment was as a result of the initial shock to the labour market, it appears women still remained behind men in terms of reaching their pre-Covid employment levels in October. Taking the data at face value, compared to February, women’s employment was still down by just under 700 000 jobs (or 8%) in October, while men’s
employment was down by 200 000 jobs (or 2%) in October. Similarly, employed women were working two fewer hours per week on average in October compared to February, while men’s working hours were back up to pre-Covid levels. However, given the small sample sizes (and therefore large margins of error), it would be prudent not to place too much emphasis on the exact numbers. At most one could say that the recovery between June and October was substantial for both men and women, although it appears to have been slower for women. As expected given the reopening of schools, both women and men reported spending significantly fewer hours on childcare in October compared to June. Women were able to cut back their hours by a greater amount than men however, highlighting how women have borne the brunt of school closures thus far. Nonetheless, among those living with children, women continue to spend more hours on childcare than men, with negative implications for their labour market prospects.

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