Affiliations: [a] Director Professor, Department of Statistics, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata 700073, India | [b] Visiting Scientist, Indian Statistical Institute, Social and Official Statistics Unit, Kolkata 700108, India
Corresponding author: Bandana Sen, Director Professor, Department of Statistics, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, 110, CR Avenue, 4 th Floor, Kolkata 700073, India. Tel.: +91 33 22417704, +91 33 22595523, +91 9836053887; Fax: +91 33 22412539; E-mail: [email protected].
Abstract: The present study provides a snapshot of the level of degradation of economic and living conditions of middle-class households of Kolkata and its neighbourhood during ‘lockdown’. It is based on an on-line survey of households of students of five purposively-selected colleges carried out during the second half of May 2020. The survey reveals that inflow of regular normal income had ceased altogether for over 40% of the sample households. About 15% of the households suffered from outright job loss or complete denial or withholding of wages and salaries payments of their members in paid employment and another about 27% reported complete closure of small businesses run by them. The normal-times income had altogether ceased for over a half of the households of the lowest income group. Predictably, the worst hit group was the wage labourers. Over four-fifths households with their prime earning member in wage employment reported job and earnings related problems, with over a fourth reporting job losses. Households with self-employed prime earners too were severely affected, with about three-fourths of them reporting such problems. Even the households with regular-salaried prime earners were badly hit. About a half of them reported job and earnings related problems. The results suggest that food grains distribution through the Public Distribution System (PDS) played a decisive role in averting an imminent famine-like situation. About 60% of the sample households were found to have procured food stuff from the PDS. Among the wage-labourers’ households, well over 80% reported dependence on the PDS, with ostensibly a large proportion of them receiving food altogether free. Despite free food grains distribution, about 5% of the sample households could not arrange three meals a day for all its members.
Keywords: Economic impact, lockdown, India, job loss, income loss, financial crisis