COVID-19 Lockdowns and Female Employment: Evidence from the Philippines

Document Type


Publication Date



Using labor force survey (LFS) data collected before and during the COVID-19 lockdowns in the Philippines, we showed that hard lockdowns had a larger negative impact on the employment of women who had minor children compared to women who did not have minor children. Among Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines was among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, in terms of both the number of infected and its economic toll. The large economic toll was partly attributable to the extreme and militarized lockdown imposed at the onset of the pandemic in the country’s three most populous and economically-important regions, namely Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon. Using difference-in-differences analysis on pooled LFS data, we showed that female household heads or spouses with children were significantly less likely to have paid employment during the hard lockdown compared to female household heads or spouses without children, even after controlling for important covariates. Among women with children, the employment losses were larger for women with two or more children, suggesting a lockdown-induced parenthood penalty for women in the labor market. This was due in part to the increased care responsibilities disproportionately shouldered by mothers during hard lockdowns, given that children were forced to be at home and do distance learning.