Before the covid-19 pandemic, significant advances have been made in the advanced industrialized economies toward greater gender equality in the workplace, especially since the 1990s. However, the first year of the pandemic has led to dramatic backsliding in gender equality even among countries that have adopted sizeable relief packages to combat the devastating economic effects of the pandemic. This commentary argues that the pandemic has reinforced existing vulnerabilities in IPE. The essay takes stock of government economic support measures in selected OECD economies. It then compares the government responses in two representative cases with very different welfare state legacies—Denmark as a case representative of the Nordic welfare state model and the USA as a case representative of the liberal welfare state model. The main finding is that the Nordic welfare state model has been more successful in protecting vulnerable social groups, such as women, in times of severe crisis. The contrast is especially visible if we compare the performance of Denmark in terms of maintaining female labor force participation during the pandemic with that of the USA, where women as a social group have been set back decades in terms of exit from the formal labor market as well as loss of job and career opportunities.

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