Title: Tracking Employment Trajectories In the Covid-19 Pandemic: Evidence from Indian Panel Data
Authors: Amit Basole, Rosa Abraham, Surbhi Kesar
Discussant: Siddharth Sharma

We conducted the third Consumer Pyramids Research Seminar on 15 December 2020 at 6.00 PM IST.

This work was part of a larger effort by economists at Azim Premji University to analyse the economic impact of the COVID-19 lockdown, suggest policy responses, and the ways to finance them. In the run-up to Budget 2021-22, the team at the Center for Sustainable Employment discussed their research extensively in the popular media. They discuss the findings from this paper in articles published in the Hindustan Times, Mint and IndiaSpend as well as in an interview televised on New24.

Event Summary

The authors presented results from their use of the CPHS panel to map employment trajectories before and after the pandemic. Their work throws fresh light on how these trajectories differed by social identity, employment arrangement, and industry. Their work also probed whether workers returned to the same type of employment and to comparable incomes.

The authors studied a sample of 8807 individuals who were part of the workforce in December 2019 and tracked them till August 2020. Nearly 60% of male workers faced no losses, and 29% recovered their jobs by August, whereas for women these numbers were 16% and 24% respectively.

Employing a binomial logit model and controlling for employment and demographic covariates, the authors found both women and younger workers faced greater risk of employment loss. On adding controls, neither caste nor religious identity remained significant in explaining job loss. Further, while casual workers were more likely to lose work; having lost employment, all types of workers were equally likely to not recover. The study also found large shifts from across all employment arrangements into the self-employment category.

Siddharth Sharma, serving as the discussant, suggested that the authors consider using the event-study estimation methodology given the context of their study. He recommended that they construct baselines for their results on heterogeneous impacts of the pandemic and add more disaggregated industry and occupation controls. He concluded by putting forward questions for the authors to explore with respect to gender and employment.

Following the authors’ responses to the discussion, the last 20 minutes of the webinar were spent in an insightful live Q/A wherein the authors answered the audience’s remaining questions and took suggestions.

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