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Gender and Covid-19 in Ireland—new paper from NESC Secretariat



 ‘The gender impacts of Covid-19 in Ireland

To view the paper click here 


Women and men of all ages and groups have been impacted by the changes wrought by Covid-19 in Ireland.  However, there are a number of gender differences. Overall, men have been more affected by employment loss due to Covid-19 lockdowns, while women are more affected by the need to provide extra care in the home due to the closure of childcare, schools, and services for vulnerable children and adults. These are some of the findings in a new Working Paper from the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), which is based on an overview of the available data.

Some of the labour market changes could have gendered impacts in the longer term.  For example, proportionally, women were more likely to receive payments under the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and men were more likely to receive the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). “This has implications for future employment, as those on the TWSS retain a link with their employer, which should make it easier to return to work than for those on the PUP”, argued Dr Anne-Marie McGauran, one of the author’s of the working paper.

In terms of health, women are more likely to be infected with Covid-19, but the death rate is higher among men. Potential explanations are the high proportion of women working in healthcare, and behavioural and biological characteristics of men and women.

Women have also experienced a greater decline in well-being than men since the beginning of the pandemic, and the increase in alcohol, tobacco and junk food consumption has been higher among women than men. However, both women and men report some positive outcomes from the changed living circumstances under Covid-19.  “Women were particularly likely to find spending more quality time with those that they live with to be a benefit.  Men were more likely to find a better work-life balance and reduced commuting to be beneficial”, said Órlaith Hennessey, co-author.

Some negative impacts of the pandemic lockdowns have had a particularly strong impact on women.  One is the increase in domestic violence. Secondly, lone parents, who are mostly women, face a range of stresses due to managing childcare, home-schooling and employment alone.

The Government has put in place a range of supports to deal with the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ongoing/ further analysis of the impacts of Covid-19 on each gender can help to pinpoint policy responses to support their needs.

Note to Editors

The working paper was posted on the NESC Website, on March 11th 2021.

For further information please contact Anne-Marie McGauran,

e: /

t:  +353-1-814 6365


Throughout 2020, the NESC Secretariat has been producing a Covid-19 Working Paper Series, to provide timely, concise analysis for policy-makers and other stakeholders. This research work, in normal circumstances, would be used to produce NESC reports, which would be published following detailed deliberation by the NESC Council (see below). By putting it in the public domain earlier, it is hoped this research can help those now working on Ireland’s response to Covid-19. It will also inform Ireland’s discussion of its recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. These papers are un-refereed material and are a work-in-progress. The NESC Secretariat is solely responsible for the content and any views expressed therein, and welcomes any comment on these papers (email Given the nature of the crisis, these working papers are likely to be updated on a regular basis. This will be done in as timely as manner as possible.

About the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

The National Economic & Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973.  Its function is to analyse and report to the Taoiseach on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy, the achievement of social justice and the development of a strategic framework for the conduct of relations and negotiation of agreements between the government and the social partners.  The Council is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach.  It comprises representatives of trade unions, employer bodies, farm organisations, community and voluntary organisations, environmental organisations, key Government departments and has eight independent experts.





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