When Face-to-Face Interactions Become an Occupational Hazard: Jobs in the Time of COVID-19

13 Pages Posted: 14 May 2020

See all articles by Besart Avdiu

Besart Avdiu

Goethe University Frankfurt

Gaurav Nayyar

University of Oxford

Date Written: May 11, 2020


There is a crisis of demand brewing around the globe as social distancing becomes the norm to counter the COVID-19 outbreak. So, which parts of the economy are most in the line of fire? Looking at jobs that can be done at home or that require a high degree of face-to-face interactions with consumers can capture complementary but distinct mechanisms to assess this vulnerability. This paper uses data on 900 job titles from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database for the United States to demonstrate that there is substantial heterogeneity in vulnerability across industries, income groups, and gender. First, industries vary in whether they emphasize face-to-face interactions and home-based work and the two do not always go hand-in-hand. Second, occupations that are less amenable to home-based work are largely concentrated among the lower wage deciles. Third, a larger share of women's employment is accounted for by occupations that are intensive in face-to-face interactions.

Keywords: Labor Markets, International Trade and Trade Rules, Common Carriers Industry, Food & Beverage Industry, Plastics & Rubber Industry, Textiles, Apparel & Leather Industry, Pulp & Paper Industry, Construction Industry, Business Cycles and Stabilization Policies, General Manufacturing, Gender and Development, Public Health Promotion

Suggested Citation

Avdiu, Besart and Nayyar, Gaurav, When Face-to-Face Interactions Become an Occupational Hazard: Jobs in the Time of COVID-19 (May 11, 2020). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 9240, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3599547

Besart Avdiu (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Grüneburgplatz 1
Frankfurt am Main, 60323

Gaurav Nayyar

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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