The Distribution of Covid-19 Related Risks
47 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2020 Last revised: 8 Mar 2023
Date Written: October 2020
This paper documents two COVID-related risks, viral risk and employment risk, and their distributions across the Canadian population. The measurement of viral risk is based on the VSE COVID Risk/Reward Assessment Tool, created to assist policymakers in determining the impacts of economic shutdowns and re-openings over the course of the pandemic. We document that women are more concentrated in high viral risk occupations and that this is the source of their greater employment loss over the course of the pandemic so far. They were also less likely to maintain one form of contact with their former employers, reducing employment recovery rates. Low educated workers face the same virus risk rates as high educated workers but much higher employment losses. Based on a rough counterfactual exercise, this is largely accounted for by their lower likelihood of switching to working from home which, in turn, is related to living conditions such as living in crowded dwellings. For both women and the low educated, existing inequities in their occupational distributions and living situations have resulted in them bearing a disproportionate amount of the risk emerging from the pandemic. Assortative matching in couples has tended to exacerbate risk inequities.
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