Threat to economy due to COVID-19 more serious than impact on health: Pan-India survey report

The report is based on a survey conducted across 22 states and two Union Territories, with 475 responses collected between June 16 and June 30, 2020

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

Ashlin Mathew

The threat to the economy due to COVID-19 is more serious compared to its impact as a health crisis, as per a survey conducted by the Centre for Public Policy Research. Nine out of ten respondents said the COVID-19’s threat to the economy was highly severe.

In this survey, conducted before India’s quarterly GDP was released, eight out of ten respondents believed that the economy would remain affected for more than nine months, while four out of ten respondents believe the economy will remain affected for over 13 months. Additionally, the majority of respondents perceived the pandemic to last at least until mid-next year.

Of those surveyed, one out of four employed experienced a salary cut while about one-sixth of them were from the lowest income group below Rs 25,000. The rest of the income groups comprised a greater percentage of respondents reporting salary cuts. The survey found that, of the 27 respondents who lost their jobs during the lockdown, one-third of them belonged to the lowest income segment.

Per the survey, 94% of unemployed respondents rated the Coronavirus crisis as either a ‘severe’ or a ‘highly severe’ threat, Among respondents who were employed full-time, contractually, or in a freelance capacity, only 91% felt similarly . A part of those surveyed were students, who were concerned about graduating in an environment of economic adversity.

The report is based on a survey conducted across 22 states and two Union Territories, with 475 responses collected between June 16 and June 30, 2020. At least 41% of the respondents were from Kerala, 14% from Maharashtra, 9% from Karnataka, 8% from Tamil Nadu, and 7% from Delhi. Four out of ten respondents were graduates, while six out of ten had a postgraduate degree. Respondents were predominantly urban residents (81%) with rural residents accounting for 19% of the respondents.

On an average, the respondents were relatively more content with the response of their respective state governments to the pandemic compared to that of the Central government. Almost one out of two respondents are content with the response of their state governments.

Of all the states, respondents in Kerala (4.11) were most satisfied with the response of the state government to the pandemic, while the residents of Delhi (2.41) were the least satisfied with the government’s response. On average, the Central government’s response was rated 2.44.

The survey also looked at how the pandemic affected men and women. A greater percentage of women (86%) washed their hands more frequently compared to men (83%). Similarly, 93% of the women who were surveyed wore their face masks while stepping out compared to 90% of the men.

The difference in certain preventive behaviours and ideal attitude between the genders were starker in some other instances. There was a difference of 11 percentage points between men and women with regard to the indicator, “I leave my home to buy essential items only”, and 9 percentage points with regard to the behaviour, “I avoid touching my face with unwashed hands’’.

Women consistently showed better adherence than men to ideal behaviours such as hygiene and safety measures, physical distancing measures, compliance to all guidelines despite relaxation in the lockdown and better knowledge about COVID-19 and official information sources giving correct information about COVID-19.

This finding was also in line with the study done in Hong Kong during the initial stage of the H1N1 pandemic. There it was found that women were more likely than men to practice preventive behaviours and avoid going out in public or to crowded places. A study conducted in the Golestan province of Iran also found similar results.

While identifying mental health implications of the pandemic, the study found that women fared worse than men; 36% of women respondents agreed that they were stressed/anxious because of the current situation compared to 27% of men; 29% of women felt hopeless about the future compared to only 18% of men. A similar percentage of men and women (21% ) felt lonely.

A greater percentage of male respondents (19%) had trouble adjusting to self-isolation compared to 16% of female respondents. But that did not translate into doing chores at home. Women consistently spent more time doing the unpaid household work and family. At least 77% of the women respondents said they spent more time on household chores, while only 69% of men did.

The survey also found that public transport is likely to face huge setbacks in terms of the number of users as many of them would opt for private modes of travel post lockdown.

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Published: 01 Sep 2020, 8:50 PM