Covid-19, Employment and the Role of Social Protection Programs

by Preetha Joseph

We are delighted to invite you to the fourth Consumer Pyramids Research Seminar on 22 December 2020 at 6.00 PM IST.

Prof. Kanika Mahajan of the Ashoka University will present Covid-19, Employment and the Role of Social Protection Programs. This paper is jointly written with Prof. Farzana Afridi and Nikita Sangwan of ISI Delhi. Their paper will be discussed by Prof. Swati Dhingra of the London School of Economics.

You can view a recording of the presentation, discussion and Q&A on YouTube.


Existing studies show large job losses following the COVID-19 induced lockdown in India, which mostly recovered as the restrictions eased. We examine the role of two programs, namely the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and the PM Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyaan Scheme (PM-GKRA), in cushioning the job losses. While NREGS was an existing public employment program in rural areas, the person days of work provided under the scheme increased during the months of May- June. On the other hand, PM-GKRA was launched in June, specifically targeting migrant workers across 116 districts and with a greater focus on skilled work.

We also look at which demographic groups benefited the most from these schemes. Our findings show that an increase in provision of work days under NREGS reduced the job losses in rural areas. During the lockdown phase the losses were equally cushioned for men and women but later women benefited more. Individuals more than 30 years old were cushioned more by the scheme than the youth. The districts with GKRA program also witnessed a lower reduction in employment rate. Further, we find that this program helped buffer the job losses particularly in urban areas and among the youth, possibly because the program aimed at providing skilled employment.


- 6.00 to 7.00 PM: Paper presentation by Prof. Kanika Mahajan

- 7.00 to 7.30 PM: Discussion by Prof. Swati Dhingra 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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