The Covid-19 Pandemic and Gendered Division of Paid and Unpaid Work: Evidence from India

by Gayatri Dewan

We were delighted to host the first Consumer Pyramids Research Seminar on 19 October 2020 at 6.00 PM IST.

Professor Ashwini Deshpande of Ashoka University presented on The Covid-19 Pandemic and Gendered Division of Paid and Unpaid Work: Evidence from India. Her paper was discussed by Professor Vidhya Soundarajan of IIM Bangalore.

You can view the webinar here.


Based on national-level panel data from Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE)’s Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS) database between January 2019 and August 2020, this paper investigates the effects of Covid-19 induced lockdown on employment and the gendered pattern of time allocation inside the home.

The paper finds that overall employment, which was relatively stable during the pre-pandemic time period, dropped sharply in the first month of the lockdown, April 2020. It increased in subsequent months as the economy unlocked to reach very close to pre-lockdown levels.

While the lockdown was gender blind, its effect was not gender neutral. Given the large pre-existing gender gaps in labour force participation, in absolute terms more men lost employment than women. However, conditional on being previously employed, women were more likely to lose employment in April 2020. In August 2020, men were more likely to transition back to employment compared to women. There is no evidence of an increase in female labour force participation, possibly driven by wives joining the labour force due to their husbands’ unemployment.

India has amongst the most unequal gendered divisions of household work globally. Comparing hours spent on domestic work pre- and post-lockdown, the paper finds that male hours spent on domestic work increased during April 2020, such that there was a significant reduction of the gender gap in time spent on housework. However, by August 2020, the gap had widened again due to a decline in the time spent by men on housework, though not to the pre-lockdown level.

A clear adverse effect of the pandemic has been a decrease in time spent with friends for both men and women, but relatively more for women. After April 2020, hours spent with friends have been increasing, but are not back to their pre-pandemic levels. This has implications for well-being and mental health.


- 6.00 to 7.00 PM: Paper presentation by Professor Ashwini Deshpande

- 7.00 to 7.30 PM: Discussion by Professor Vidhya Soundarajan followed by moderated Q&A

About the Consumer Pyramids Research Seminar Series

The Consumer Pyramids Research Seminar Series features work based on the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey. It is a platform for researchers to receive critical and technical feedback from accomplished peers. It is also meant to engage with the larger research community who may gain from technical discussions.

The Consumer Pyramids Household Survey is India’s largest regular household survey and the world’s largest household panel survey. CPHS has collected data on over 232,000 households and 1.19 million individuals surveyed since 2014. The survey collects information on household demographics, individual identities, employment, health status, financial inclusion, individual and household incomes, consumption expenditures, ownership of assets and intentions to buy them, household amenities and consumer sentiments. Income and expenses data are a monthly time-series since January 2014.

Record-level data from all 20 Waves of CPHS is available through a subscription service. Data from the May-Aug 2020 Wave of CPHS has already been released to subscribers. Please visit our website to learn more about CPHS and how to gain access to the record-level data.

If you have written a paper using CPHS and would like to present in the Seminar Series, please write to Kaushik Krishnan at

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