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Do men and women “lockdown” differently? Examining Panama’s Covid-19 sex-segregated social distancing policy

State-enforced curtailment of mobility – through social distancing and national or subnational lockdowns – has become a key tool to reduce COVID-19 transmission. Panama instituted a sex-segregated mobility policy to limit people’s circulation whereby women were allowed to leave the home for essential services on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and men on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Through a retrospective analysis of Global Positioning System (GPS) data, this paper presents an overview of aggregate mobility patterns in Panama following the policy implementation. The paper looks at relative mobility for women and men, examining differences by volume and type of movement. The results identify lower visits to all community location categories on women-mobility days; however, we find no statistically significant difference in aggregate mobility to workplaces. The results discuss the implications of these findings and the ethical questions raised regarding the use of sex and gender identity in COVID-19 policies.


  • Google mobility data provide a novel opportunity to examine population movement during lockdowns.

  • Panamanian men appear less strict than women with stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 lockdown.

  • Lockdown policies may restrict women’s public participation.

  • Public domestic activities may hold new value and inform household bargaining during COVID-19.

  • Policies based on government-indicated sex reproduce inequalities for non-binary individuals.

Woskie, L., & Wenham, C. (2021). Do Men and Women “Lockdown” Differently? Examining Panama’s Covid-19 Sex-Segregated Social Distancing Policy. Feminist Economics, 1-18.

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