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The Distribution of COVID-19 Related Risks

This paper documents two COVID-related risks, viral risk and employment risk, and its distribution across the Canadian population. The measurement of viral risk is based on the VSE COVID Risk/Reward Assessment Tool, created to assist policymakers in determining the impacts of economic shutdowns and re-openings over the course of the pandemic. We document that COVID-related risks are not distributed equally. Women work in occupations with greater viral risk, even after accounting for greater female representation in health-related occupations. Employment losses since the pandemic have disproportionately impacted women, those with less education, and recent immigrants. Viral and employment risks are correlated. Employment losses have been greater in occupations that measure higher in viral risk. This interacts with and helps account for the greater em-ployment loss experienced by economically marginalized groups. Finally, we study labour market adjustments resulting in increased “employed by absent from work” status, working from home, and assortative mating in terms of viral risk.

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