Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2021

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



Department Chair or Program Director

Ray, Margaret

First Advisor

Rycroft, Robert

Second Advisor

Greenlaw, Steven

Third Advisor

Dhar, Amrita

Major or Concentration



The pandemic in 2019-2021, induced by the spread of Covid-19 influenced global economic downturns and had significant effects on the United States labor force. The recession and pandemic disproportionately affected women’s labor causing higher unemployment and lower labor force participation for women relative to men in the U.S. throughout 2020. These effects were influenced by occupational choices, income decisions, parental status and social norms. This paper will show that women’s tendency to work in service-related occupations prompted massive losses in employment when social distancing recommendation and mandates were enforced by state and local governments. Furthermore, social distancing caused the closure of public schools and other child-care services which is correlated with high unemployment for women and compelled women to leave the labor force to care for their children. Women frequently took on the role as primary caregiver during the pandemic for two main reasons, the first being that women generally earn lower income then men, which disincentivized fathers to leave the labor force for childcare. Additionally, social norms and unequal childcare responsibilities influenced women to take care of their children during the pandemic by leaving the labor force or working and caregiving simultaneously from home. The outcomes of the 2020 recession will likely be the stagnation or lowering of real earnings for women, as a result of human capital deterioration and reluctance to rejoin the labor force.

Included in

Economics Commons