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The impact of Covid-19 restrictions on workers: Who is most exposed?

Frank Crowley, Justin Doran () and Geraldine Ryan

SRERC Working Paper Series from University College Cork (UCC), Spatial and Regional Economic Research Centre (SRERC)

Abstract: The coronavirus is severely disrupting labour markets. Businesses that rely on face-to-face communication or close physical proximity between co-workers and with customers are particularly vulnerable. While interventions such as occupational social distancing and remote working have become widespread responses to the pandemic, we know very little about which workers will be affected the most by these interventions. Does our age, gender, marital status, educational attainment, occupation, or location affect our ability to practice occupational socially distancing, or our ability to work remotely? Social distancing and remote working potential indices are constructed, by occupation, using O*Net data, and this is matched to individual level data on over 150,000 individuals in employment from the Irish Census 2011. This allows us to identify, at the individual level, worker characteristics which can explain the degree to which a given individual working in a certain occupation may be able to effectively socially distance in their workplace or engage in remote work. Our results indicate that Covid-19 restrictions are unequal across workers. Notably younger, male, less educated, non-nationals, the self-employed and those located outside the capital will find it more difficult to work remotely and more difficult to practice socially distancing in the workplace.

Date: 2020
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