Published time: 19 May 2020
Authors: Xavier St-Denis
Keywords: COVID-19, health, occupations, stratification, work
The activities performed by Canadian workers in some occupations may increase the risk of exposure to infectious diseases such as COVID-19. This research note explores how occupational exposure risks vary by labour force characteristics using publicly available Canadian data in combination with a dataset providing information on the level of physical proximity and frequency of exposure to infections or diseases faced by workers in different occupations. I find important sociodemographic differences. First, women work in occupations associated with significantly higher average risks of exposure to COVID-19 than men. This is driven by their over-representation in high-risk broad occupational categories such as health occupations. Second, older workers (65 years old or more), a group vulnerable to COVID-19, appear to work in occupations requiring performing activities that require a lower level of physical proximity than their younger colleagues, with minimal differences in the frequency of exposure to diseases or infections. Finally, workers in low-income occupations are employed in occupations that put them at greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 than other workers. This is especially the case for women, immigrants and members of visible minority groups in low-income occupations. More broadly, this research note provides insights into the health-related dimension of the literature on occupational tasks and labour market stratification.
Sociodemographic Determinants of Occupational Risks of Exposure to COVID-19 in Canada