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Precarity in a time of uncertainty: Gendered employment patterns during the Covid-19 lockdown in India

India implemented one of the world’s most stringent lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This study examines whether the impacts of the lockdown on employment differed by gender in areas surrounding Delhi. An ongoing monthly employment survey between March 2019 and May 2020 allows for comparison before and after lockdown. Estimates based on random-effects logistic regression models show that for men, the predicted probability of employment declined from 0.88 to 0.57, while for women it fell from 0.34 to 0.22. Women’s concentration in self-employment may be one reason why their employment was somewhat protected. However, when looking only at wage workers, the study finds that women experienced greater job losses than men with predicted probability of employment declining by 72 percent for women compared to 40 percent for men. The findings highlight the gendered impacts of macro crises and inform policy considerations through ongoing phases of lockdowns and relaxation.


  • Ongoing survey data reveals gendered changes in employment before and during India’s pandemic lockdown.

  • Results show substantial decline in employment for men and women during the lockdown period.

  • Absolute decline in employment was larger for men than for women.

  • However, broad comparisons mask gender differences in impact on different industries and occupations.

  • Comparing only wage workers, employment decline was far greater for women than for men.

Desai, S., Deshmukh, N., & Pramanik, S. (2021). Precarity in a Time of Uncertainty: Gendered Employment Patterns during the Covid-19 Lockdown in India. Feminist Economics, 1-21.

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