Evaluation of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the development of the unemployment rate in Slovakia: counterfactual before-after comparison





unemployment, labour market, COVID-19, counterfactual evaluation


Research background: The COVID-19 pandemic, which hit the world in the first quarter of 2020, has impacted almost every area of people's lives. Many states have introduced varying degrees of measures to prevent its spread. Most of these measures were, or still are, aimed at reducing or completely stopping the operation of shops and services, or in some cases, also the large manufacturing companies. However, as many companies have failed to cope with these restrictions, unemployment has risen in almost all EU countries. A similar situation was also observed in Slovakia, where the mentioned measures also had a significant impact on unemployment.

Purpose of the article: In this study, we deal with the quantification of the impact of a pandemic, or more precisely, anti-pandemic measures, on the development of the registered unemployment rate in Slovakia.

Methods: This quantification is based on the counterfactual method of before-after comparison, which is one of the most widely used methods in the field of impact assessments and brings very accurate results, based on real data. In the analysis, we use officially published data on the unemployment rate in Slovakia during the years 2013?2020 on a monthly basis. Such a long time series, using statistical methods of its decomposition and modelling of its trend, will allow predicting the development of the unemployment rate in Slovakia, assuming a counterfactual situation of no pandemic, and compare this development with the actual situation that occurred during 2020.

Findings & Value added: The study results indicate an increase in the unemployment rate in Slovakia during 2020 by 2?3% compared to the trend of its development, which would have occurred without a pandemic. Given the counterfactual method used, this difference can be described as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the study can be used in practice in the design and implementation of measures introduced to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on unemployment and, in the long-term perspective, also to eliminate these effects as much as possible. It can also be used as a theoretical tool in conducting impact assessments, which have so far been carried out very rarely in Slovakia.


Download data is not yet available.


Ababulgu Abasimel, N., & Wana Fufa, H. (2021). The horrors of COVID-19 and the recent macroeconomy in Ethiopia. Journal of the Knowledge Economy. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s13132-020-00713-6.

Arco-Tirado, J. L., Fernández-Martín, F., Ramos-García, A. M., Littvay, L., Villoria, J., & Naranjo, J. A. (2018). A counterfactual impact evaluation of a bilingual program on students? grade point average at a spanish university. Evaluation and Program Planning, 68, 81?89. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2018.02. 013.

Baert, S. (2021). The iceberg decomposition: a parsimonious way to map the health of labour markets. Economic Analysis and Policy, 69, 350?365. doi: 10.1016/j. eap.2020.12.012.

Baliak, M., & Belin, M. (2020). The current state of unemployment and its short-term forecast. Institute of Social Policy.

Bargain, O., & Aminjonov, U. (2021). Poverty and COVID-19 in Africa and Latin America. World Development, 142, 105422. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2021.105 422.

Barrot, J.-N., Grassi, B., & Sauvagnat, J. (2020). Estimating the costs and benefits of mandated business closures in a pandemic. CEPR Discussion Papers, 14757.

Bauer, A., & Weber, E. (2020). COVID-19: How much unemployment was caused by the shutdown in Germany? Applied Economics Letters, 28(12), 1053?1058. doi: 10.1080/13504851.2020.1789544.

Bhar, R., & Malliaris, A. G. (2021). Modeling U.S. monetary policy during the global financial crisis and lessons for COVID-19. Journal of Policy Modeling, 43(1), 15?33. doi: 10.1016/j.jpolmod.2020.07.001.

Binder, C. (2020). Coronavirus fears and macroeconomic expectations. Review of Economics and Statistics, 102(4), 721?730. doi: 10.1162/rest_a_00931.

BLS (2021). U.S. bureau of labor statistics. Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/.

Bonam, D., de Haan, J., & van Limbergen, D. (2021). Time-varying wage Phillips curves in the euro area with a new measure for labor market slack. Economic Modelling, 96, 157?171. doi: 10.1016/j.econmod.2020.12.027.

Cerulli, G. (2015). Methods based on selection on observables. In V G. Cerulli (Ed.). Econometric evaluation of socio-economic programs: theory and applications. Springer, 49?159. doi: 10.1007/978-3-662-46405-2_2.

Dang, H.-A. H., & Viet Nguyen, C. (2021). Gender inequality during the COVID-19 pandemic: income, expenditure, savings, and job loss. World Development, 140, 105296. doi: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105296.

Dvoulety, O., & Lukes, M. (2016). Review of empirical studies on self-employment out of unemployment: do self-employment policies make a positive impact? International Review of Entrepreneurship, 14(3), 361?376.

Eichenbaum, M., Rebelo, S., & Trabandt, M. (2020). The macroeconomics of epidemics. NBER Working Paper Series, 26882. doi: 10.3386/w26882.

Fleming, M. J., Sarkar, A., & Tassel, P. V. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic and the Fed?s response. Liberty Street Economics, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 20200415.

Frondel, M., & Schmidt, C. M. (2005). Evaluating environmental programs: the perspective of modern evaluation research. Ecological Economics, 55(4), 515?526. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2004.12.013.

Goes, M. C. B., & Gallo, E. (2021). Infection is the cycle: unemployment, output and economic policies in the COVID-19 pandemic. Review of Political Economy, 1?17. doi: 10.1080/09538259.2020.1861817.

Hlawiczka, R., & Kollar, B. (2021). Globalization and its impact on Slovak economy during corona crisis. SHS Web of Conferences, 92, 01014. doi: 10.1051/ shsconf/20219201014.

Hosoff, B., Brzica, D., Hvozdikova, V., Korcek, M., Obadi, S. M., Ondrovic, A., Sipko, J., Stanek, P., Vaskova, V., & Vokoun, J. (2020). Developments and perspectives of the world economy: Transformation during the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. Institute of Economic Research SAS.

Huang, A., Makridis, C., Baker, M., Medeiros, M., & Guo, Z. (2020). Understanding the impact of COVID-19 intervention policies on the hospitality labor market. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 91, 102660. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhm.2020.102660.

Choi, E. J., Choi, J., & Son, H. (2020). The long-term effects of labor market entry in a recession: evidence from the Asian financial crisis. Labour Economics, 67, 101926. doi: 10.1016/j.labeco.2020.101926.

ILO-OECD (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on jobs and incomes in G20 economies. International Labour Oraganization.

Kikuchi, S., Kitao, S., & Mikoshiba, M. (2021). Who suffers from the COVID-19 shocks? Labor market heterogeneity and welfare consequences in Japan. Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, 59, 101117. doi: 10.1016 /j.jjie.2020.101117.

Kruppe, T., & Lang, J. (2018). Labour market effects of retraining for the unemployed: the role of occupations. Applied Economics, 50(14), 1578?1600. doi: 10.1080/00036846.2017.1368992.

Kunieda, T., Hashimoto, K., & Im, R. (2017). Asset bubbles, unemployment, and a financial crisis. Discussion Paper Series. School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University, 156.

Liotti, G. (2020). Labour market flexibility, economic crisis and youth unemployment in Italy. Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, 54, 150?162. doi: 10.1016/j.strueco.2020.04.011.

Liu, C., & Wang, L. (2020). A formative assessment of gender awareness and ability of staff based on the service programs of the All-China Women?s Federation: the case of the ?3861 My Home? program. Evaluation and Program Planning, 78, 101732. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2019.101732.

Mongey, S., Pilossoph, L., & Weinberg, A. (2020). Which workers bear the burden of social distancing? NBER Working Papers Series, 27085. doi: 10.3386/w270 85.

Padhan, R., & Prabheesh, K. P. (2021). The economics of COVID-19 pandemic: a survey. Economic Analysis and Policy, 70, 220?237. doi: 10.1016/j.eap.2021 .02.012.

Palomino, J. C., Rodriguez, J. G., & Sebastian, R. (2020). Wage inequality and poverty effects of lockdown and social distancing in Europe. European Economic Review, 129, 103564. doi: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2020.103564.

Pelucha, M., Kveton, V., & Potluka, O. (2019). Using mixed method approach in measuring effects of training in firms: case study of the European Social Fund support. Evaluation and Program Planning, 73, 146?155. doi: 10.1016/j.evalpr ogplan.2018.12.008.

Potluka, O., Bruha, J., Spacek, M., & Vrbova, L. (2016). Counterfactual impact evaluation on EU cohesion policy interventions in training in companies. Ekonomicky Casopis, 64(6), 575?595.

Ranchhod, V., & Daniels, R. C. (2021). Labour market dynamics in South Africa at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. South African Journal of Economics, 89(1), 44?62. doi: 10.1111/saje.12283.

SBA (2020). Employment support during the corona crisis in the Slovak Republic and surrounding countries. Slovak Business Agency.

Shibata, I. (2020). The distributional impact of recessions: the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic recession. Journal of Economics and Business, 105971. doi: 10.1016/j.jeconbus.2020.105971.

Sobieralski, J. B. (2020). COVID-19 and airline employment: insights from historical uncertainty shocks to the industry. Transportation Research Interdisciplinary Perspectives, 5, 100123. doi: 10.1016/j.trip.2020.100123.

Stefanik, M. (2014). Estimating treatment effects of a training programme in Slovakia using propensity score matching. Ekonomický Časopis, 62(6), 631?645.

Stefanik, M., Karasova, K., & Studena, I. (2020). Can supporting workplace insertions of unemployed recent graduates improve their long-term employability? Empirica, 47(2), 245?265. doi: 10.1007/s10663-018-9413-y.

Sumner, A., Hoy, C., & Ortiz-Juarez, E. (2020). Estimates of the impact of COVID-19 on global poverty. UNU-WIDER. doi: 10.35188/UNU-WIDER/2020/800-9.

Svabova, L., Durica, M., & Kliestik, T. (2019). Modelling the costs of unemployment for young graduates in Slovakia: a counterfactual approach. Politická Ekonomie, 67(5), 552?566. doi: 10.18267/j.polek.1248.

Svabova, L., & Kramarova, K. (2021). An analysis of participation factors and effects of the active labour market measure Graduate practice in Slovakia ? counterfactual approach. Evaluation and Program Planning, 86, 101917. doi: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2021.101917.

Trivellato, U. (2011). Fifteen years of labour market regulations and policies in Italy: What have we learned from their evaluation? Statistica, 71(2), 167?187. doi: 10.6092/issn.1973-2201/3610.

Van der Wielen, W., & Barrios, S. (2020). Economic sentiment during the COVID pandemic: evidence from search behaviour in the EU. Journal of Economics and Business, 105970. doi: 10.1016/j.jeconbus.2020.105970.




How to Cite

Svabova, L., Tesarova, E. N., Durica, M., & Strakova, L. (2021). Evaluation of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the development of the unemployment rate in Slovakia: counterfactual before-after comparison. Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy, 16(2), 261–284. https://doi.org/10.24136/eq.2021.010