The paper warns that around the world, young, poorly educated workers and workers on temporary contracts “are least likely to be able to work from home and more vulnerable to the labor market shocks from COVID-19”.
The paper notes that failure to account for internet access could mean that the vulnerability of poor countries is underestimated.
The World Bank has published a policy research working paper that estimates the share of jobs that can be performed from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper titled, ‘Who on Earth Can Work from Home?’ finds that the ability to telework is correlated with income.
The July 2020 publication “presents new estimates of the share of jobs that can be done from home across the globe, assesses which workers are most at risk, and explores the impacts of COVID-19 on labor market inequality.” The authors’ analysis “is based on the task content of occupations, their information and communications technology requirements, and the availability of internet access by country and income groupings.”
The paper finds that while globally, one of every five jobs can be performed from home, in low-income countries (LICs), only one of every 26 jobs is amenable to home-based work. Since better paid workers are more likely to be able to work from home, the authors argue, the pandemic “is likely to exacerbate inequality, especially in richer countries where better paid and educated workers are insulated from the shock.”
However, the overall impact on labor market is expected to be more significant in poor countries, where very few can work from home, and “social protection systems are weaker.” The paper warns that around the world, young, poorly educated workers and workers on temporary contracts “are least likely to be able to work from home and more vulnerable to the labor market shocks from COVID-19.”
The paper further notes that failure to account for internet access could lead to upward biased estimates of the resilience of LICs by a factor of 4, underestimating the vulnerability of poor countries.
These findings suggest that the impacts of COVID-19 on labor market may compromise the achievement of the SDGs, in particular SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 10 (reduced inequalities).