Research Papers

The Covid-19 Pandemic and Lockdown: First Effects on Gender Gaps in Employment and Domestic Work in India

By Ashwini Deshpande | 17 June 2020 Topics : Caste, Covid-19, Employment, Gender, India, Lockdown

Based on national-level panel data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS) database, this paper investigates the first effects of Covid-19 induced lockdown on employment and hours spent on household work. Identifying roughly over 40,000 individuals surveyed in April 2020 (i.e. during the strict nationwide lockdown) and examining their employment status over the last year, the paper finds that overall employment dropped sharply post-lockdown, with no change in the pre-pandemic time periods. This drop in employment was not gender neutral. Given the large pre-existing gender gaps in employment, in absolute terms, more men lost employment than women. However, conditional on being employed pre-lockdown, women were roughly 20 percentage points less likely to be employed than men who were employed pre lockdown. India has amongst the most unequal gender division of household work globally. Comparing hours spent on domestic work pre- and post-lockdown, we find that for men, hours spent on domestic work increased during lockdown. The gender gap in average hours spent on domestic work hours decreased in the first month of the lockdown, and most states showed a decline in the gender gap due to a shift in the male distribution of hours. The male distribution continues to be right-skewed, but the proportions of men doing between 0.5 to 4 hours of housework per day increased post-lockdown.

Read more

Political Institutions and Policy Responses During a Crisis

By Sabyasachi Das & Gaurav Chiplunkar | 17 June 2020 Topics : Autocracy, Covid-19, Democracy, Electoral Systems

Do countries with differing political institutions respond differently to a national crisis? The coronavirus pandemic, where almost all countries were hit by the same crisis in a short span of time, provides a rare opportunity to answer this question. For a sample of 125 countries, we use high frequency data on two measures of policy response- (i) containment policies, relating to closure of public spaces and restrictions on movement of people, and (ii) health policies, relating to public information campaigns, testing and contact tracing, to examine their policy response to the crisis. We show that: first, non-democracies have more stringent containment and health policies prior to their first COVID-19 case. However, after registering their first case, democracies either close this gap (in containment policies), or surpass non-democracies (in health policies) within a week. Second, policy responses do not differ by governance systems (presidential or parliamentary) in democracies. However, elected leaders who performed better in the last election or face their next election farther in the future are more aggressive in their policy response. Third, democracies with greater media freedom respond more slowly in containment policies, but are more aggressive in health policies. Lastly, more conducive political norms (such as trust in the elected government) systematically predict a more ag- gressive response in both containment and health policies. Our analysis therefore suggests that political institutions and the incentives of the political leaders embedded therein, significantly shape the policy response of governments to a national crisis.

Read more

Epidemics: A Tale of Two Workers

By Rahul Nath | 1 June 2020 Topics : Covid-19, Epidemics, Heterogeneous Agents, Lockdown, Macroeconomic Labour, New Keynesian DSGE

This paper shows that the labour market opportunities available to an agent has a significant bearing on how that agent experiences the outbreak of an epidemic. I consider two types of labour (i) market labour that can only produce output in close physical proximity, and (ii) remote labour that can produce output at a distance. This paper develops a Two Agent New Keynesian model extended to include an epidemic bloc and dual feedback between economic decisions and the evolution of the epidemic. I show that an agent restricted to only supply market labour experiences higher death rates vis-`a-vis their share of the population, and suffers larger declines in labour and consumption over the course of the epidemic. Post-epidemic, these agents are significantly worse off than their counterparts who have the opportunity to work from home and hence a more unequal society emerges. I then show that simple containment policies, while leading to larger losses in economic prosperity as measured by output loss, can significantly reduce death rates across the population, bring the death rates of the two groups closer together, and reduce the inequality that emerges post epidemic.

Read more

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: COVID-19 and Supply Chain Disruption

By Kanika Mahajan & Shekhar Tomar | 11 May 2020 Topics : Covid-19, Food, Online Data, Prices, Supply Chain Disruptions

This paper looks at the disruption in food supply chains due to COVID-19 induced economic shutdown in India. We use a novel dataset from one of the largest online grocery retailers to look at the impact on product stock-outs and prices. We find that product availability falls by 10 percent for vegetables, fruits, and edible oils, while there is a minimal impact on their prices. On the farm-gate side, it is matched by a 20 percent fall in quantity arrivals of vegetables and fruits. We then show that supply chain disruption is the main driver behind this fall. We compute the distance to production zones from our retail centers and find that the fall in product availability and quantity arrivals is larger for items that are cultivated or manufactured farther from the retail centers. Our results show that long-distance food supply chains have been hit the hardest during the current pandemic with welfare consequences for urban consumers and farmers.

Read more