Japan’s voluntary month-and-a-half shutdown of the economy in April due to COVID-19 has had a higher cost for women than men. A key reason: a “guilt gap” between women and men, where women often feel compelled to take on more professional sacrifices.

Close to one million women—the majority of whom worked in temporary and part-time positions—left the labor force between December and April.

Amid massive disruptions to childcare and schools, research in an IMF Working Paper has helped solidify a universal truth: Women rather than men often face greater responsibility and guilt for being neither the ideal mother nor the ideal employee.

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