On Covid-19: New Implications of Job Task Requirements and Spouse's Occupational Sorting

16 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2020

See all articles by Warn N. Lekfuangfu

Warn N. Lekfuangfu

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid; CEP, London School of Economics; University College London - CReAM - Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration

Suphanit Piyapromdee

University College London

Ponpoje Porapakkarm

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

Nada Wasi

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 23, 2020

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted working life in many ways, the negative consequences of which may be distributed unevenly under lockdown regulations. In this paper, we construct a new set of pandemic-related indices from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) using factor analysis. The indices capture two key dimensions of job task requirements: (i) the extent to which jobs can be adaptable to work from home; and (ii) the degree of infection risk at workplace. The interaction of these two dimensions help identify which groups of workers are more vulnerable to income losses, and which groups of occupations pose more risk to public health. This information is crucial for both designing appropriate supporting programs and finding a strategy to reopen the economy while controlling the spread of the virus. In our application, we map the indices to the labor force survey of a developing country, Thailand, to analyze these new labor market risks. We document differences in job characteristics across income groups, at both the individual and household level. First, low income individuals tend to work in occupations that require less physical interaction (lower risk of infection) but are less adaptable to work from home (higher risk of income/job loss) than high income people. Second, the positive occupational sorting among low-income couples amplifies these differences at the household level. Consequently, low-income families tend to face a disproportionately larger risk of income/job loss from lockdown measures. In addition, the different exposure to infection and income risks between income groups can play an important role in shaping up the timing and optimal strategies to unlock the economy.

Keywords: Covid-19, Labor Market, Work-from-home, Physical proximity, Occupational sorting

JEL Classification: D10, E24, J12, J21

Suggested Citation

Lekfuangfu, Warn N. and Piyapromdee, Suphanit and Porapakkarm, Ponpoje and Wasi, Nada, On Covid-19: New Implications of Job Task Requirements and Spouse's Occupational Sorting (April 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3583954 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3583954

Warn N. Lekfuangfu

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid ( email )

CEP, London School of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/warnlekfuangfu/

University College London - CReAM - Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration ( email )

Drayton House
30 Gordon Street
London, WC1H 0AX
United Kingdom

Suphanit Piyapromdee (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom

Ponpoje Porapakkarm

National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS) ( email )

7-22-1 Roppongi, Minato-Ku
Tokyo 106-8677, Tokyo 106-8677
Japan

Nada Wasi

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Economics ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0508
United States

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