WeLaR’s inaugural Open Virtual Expert Café revolved around the influence of digitalisation and external shocks, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, on different groups of workers and their position and attachment to the labour market. We also examined the effects of new policies on income distribution.
The 30 November meet-up organised by ZSI featured five presentations and attracted 19 participants.
Maciej Albinowski (IBS) presented findings from a WeLaR paper co-authored with Laurène Thil (HIVA) and Marko Vladisavljević (IEN) on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on labour market participation in the EU. The researchers found that despite the overall recovery of Europe’s labour markets, lingering aftershocks may prevent immigrants and women with low levels of education from returning to work. The employment losses for women manifested as declines in the activity rate, meaning fewer women were actively working or seeking work after lockdowns were lifted.
Next, Uyen Nguyen (LISER) shared preliminary findings from ongoing research within WeLaR, examining the influence of technological change on the choice to retire early. The results indicate that individuals with higher digital skills are less inclined to opt for early retirement. This pattern is particularly noticeable among those aged over 60, those with higher education levels and with higher incomes.
Sara Baiocco (DG EMPL) talked about the Distributional Impact Assessment (DIA), a new EU analytical tool that allows users to examine how various policies, mainly in the area of tax and benefits, impact income distribution. The DIA quantifies the effects of policies on poverty and inequality, and aids in prioritising and designing policies to reduce poverty or minimise negative social impacts.
Sarra Ben Yahmed (ZEW) talked about the relationship between remote work and gender equality in the labour market. Ben Yahmed examined how school closures and the widespread adoption of working from home (WfH), caused by COVID-19, affected the division of labour within families. Before the pandemic, mothers typically spent three more hours per day on childcare than fathers; school closures resulted in a widening of this gender gap by over an hour, regardless of parents’ WfH options. However, when schools partially reopened, more childcare and housework shifted to the parent working from home, suggesting that fathers’ WfH could promote a more equal division of childcare.
Sonja Avlijaš (University of Belgrade) examined gender-specific labour market risks and the impact of employment and income support policies on women’s situation. Avlijaš showed that gender gaps in employment and earnings persist despite the positive influence of liberalisation and the expansion of services on women’s employment. She emphasised the increased vulnerability of female workers during economic crises and austerity. Gender inequalities in the labour market strongly intersect with other factors that drive labour market discrimination and disadvantage, such as class, race, immigration status, and geographic location. Additionally, her findings stress the inadequacy of current employment support policies for women, and underline the importance of effective income support policies to address the challenges faced by low-skilled women.
The collected slides with further links to the respective projects and outputs are available here.
The date of the next Café will be announced soon.