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COVID-19: a Crisis of the Female Self-Employed

Diskussionspapiere extern

Daniel Graeber, Alexander S. Kritikos, Johannes Seebauer

Potsdam: CEPA, 2021, 72 S.
(CEPA Discussion Papers ; 27)


We investigate how the economic consequences of the pandemic, and of the governmentmandated measures to contain its spread, affect the self-employed – particularly women – in Germany. For our analysis, we use representative, real-time survey data in which respondents were asked about their situation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our findings indicate that among the self-employed, who generally face a higher likelihood of income losses due to COVID-19 than employees, women are 35% more likely to experience income losses than their male counterparts. Conversely, we do not find a comparable gender gap among employees. Our results further suggest that the gender gap among the self-employed is largely explained by the fact that women disproportionately work in industries that are more severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our analysis of potential mechanisms reveals that women are significantly more likely to be impacted by government-imposed restrictions, i.e. the regulation of opening hours. We conclude that future policy measures intending to mitigate the consequences of such shocks should account for this considerable variation in economic hardship.

JEL-Classification: J16;L26;J31;J71;I18
Keywords: Self-employed, COVID-19, income, gender, representative real-time survey data, decomposition methods
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