In-person Interviews in CPHS on the Rise
The second wave of Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns in many parts of the country necessitated a switch from in-person to telephonic interviews of households that participate in the Consumer Pyramids Household Survey. As conditions have improved, CMIE has transitioned back to in-person interviews wherever possible. In July 2021, 96.1 per cent of interviews accepted by supervisors were conducted in person. This is the highest proportion of accepted interviews that were conducted in-person since the second wave of Covid-19. The improvement has been seen in almost all regions, across urban and rural India.
The Consumer Pyramids Household Survey interviews close to 45,000 households each month. These interviews are intended to be conducted in person. However, the Covid-19 pandemic made in-person interviews difficult or impossible in many regions at different points in time. To ensure that the survey did not stop, CMIE began conducting telephonic interviews in March 2020 where in-person interviews could not be conducted.
Only 0.12 per cent of all accepted interviews in April 2020 were conducted in person. As we moved out of the first wave of Covid-19, in-person interviews grew to form a larger share of all accepted interviews, reaching a maximum of 99 per cent in February 2021. This proportion fell to 93.8 per cent in April 2021, as a fresh wave of lockdowns were announced in response to the second wave of Covid-19.
In-person interviews constituted only 61.9 per cent of all accepted interviews in May 2021, corresponding to the period when Covid-19 was spreading rapidly and when the greatest restrictions on mobility were in place across India. As conditions eased, 85.9 per cent of all accepted interviews in June 2021 were conducted in-person and rose to 96.1 per cent in July 2021. This reflects improvements in the proportion of in-person interviews across the nation.
Rural and urban India are both converging to a high rate of accepted in-person interviews. Only 78.7 per cent of accepted interviews were conducted in person in June 2021, as against 89.6 per cent in urban India. The rate of in-person accepted interviews increased to 92.3 per cent in rural India and to 97.9 per cent in urban India in July 2021.
All accepted interviews in July 2021 from a dozen regions were administered in person. These are Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tripura. In contrast, only Chandigarh and Uttarakhand could boast of this record in June 2021.
On the other end of the spectrum, interviews were administered entirely telephonically in two states. Even as India reopens and the number of cases of Covid-19 drops, CPHS staff require well-functioning transportation networks to take them into survey areas. In the case of Meghalaya and Sikkim, the unavailability of transportation, the continuation of local restrictions on mobility as well as staff illnesses made it impossible to conduct in-person interviews in July 2021.
Importantly, the rate of in-person accepted interviews has increased between June 2021 and July 2021 in every state save four. In Assam, it fell from 84.72 per cent to 71.51 per cent. Three other states saw falls in the fraction of face-to-face accepted interviews. They are Maharashtra, Goa and Telangana. At 1.7, 2 and 0.4 percentage points respectively, the fall is very slight in these three states.
The six states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu were the six most populous states in India as per the 2011 Census and jointly made up 49.2 per cent of the total sample for July 2021. In these states, in-person interviews made up 99.7 per cent, 100 per cent, 94.39 per cent, 79.11 per cent, 100 per cent and 99.17 per cent respectively.
In June 2021, 40.3 per cent of all accepted interviews in West Bengal were conducted in person. Therefore, despite its relatively lower rate of in-person accepted interviews in July 2021, it is almost a doubling of the rate of in-person accepted interviews.
July 2021 was a month of serious improvements in CPHS execution, as measured by the percentage of accepted interviews that were conducted in person. We are on track to conducting all interviews in person soon unless there is another surge of Covid-19.