Workers at risk: Panel data evidence on the COVID-19 labor market crisis in India

by Gayatri Dewan

We held the fifth Consumer Pyramids Research Seminar on 11 January 2021 at 6.00 PM IST.

Dr. Maurizio Bussolo, Dr. Siddharth Sharma and Ananya Kotia from the Office of the Chief Economist, South Asia Region, World Bank presented:

Workers at risk: Panel data evidence on the COVID-19 labor market crisis in India

Their paper was discussed by Yamini Aiyar, President and Chief Executive of the Centre for Policy Research.

You can sign view a recording of the webinar here.


This paper estimates the differential impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the formal and informal sectors in India using data from the CPDX household panel dataset and employing an event study approach. Within the same industry and district, initially informal wage workers were significantly more vulnerable to the loss of employment than initially formal workers during the early phase of COVID-19 (April 2020). Furthermore, in the early phase of COVID-19, income declined significantly more for households whose head worked as an informal wage worker than for households with a formally employed head. However, the post-COVID employment and income differentials between informal and formal workers narrowed after April 2020. By July 2020, the decline in income (from the pre-COVID baseline of February 2020) was not significantly different across households with informally and formally employed heads. These patterns suggest that relative to formal workers, informal workers were affected more severely by the early COVID-19 shock but also recovered faster from it.


- 6.00 to 7.00 PM: Paper presentation by Dr. Maurizio Bussolo

- 7.00 to 7.30 PM: Discussion by Dr. Yamini Aiyar 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 Sep-Dec 2020 Wave of CPHS will be released to subscribers shortly. 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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