Impact of the COVID-19 Lockdown on the Indian Village Economy

Last Update: Dec 7, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has had varied impacts on different sections of the society in India. Amidst all the turbulence caused by the pandemic, the movement of migrant laborers has been one of extreme concern. Since the first lockdown, there have been multiple government orders administering mobility of migrant workers and at the same time, stranded workers expressing their distress due to lack of access to resources, lack of transportation, and loss of jobs. As of 31st May 2020, the New Indian Express states that about 2.5 lakh (250,000) migrant laborers have left Tamil Nadu, whereas The Wire highlights that there is about 15 lakh (1.5 million) migrant workers in Tamil Nadu and there may be many who are vulnerable in this situation. However, a question that remains predominantly unanswered is the impact on the daily lives and movement of intra-state daily wage migrant workers.

The Behavioral Development Lab, founded by Prof. Heather Schofield, Prof. Frank Schilbach, and Prof. Gautam Rao, has engaged in several research studies in the space of Development and Behavioral Economics, through LEAD at Krea University. One such research that is currently being conducted by Prof. Heather Schofield (University of Pennsylvania), Prof. Supreet Kaur (University of California, Berkeley), and Luisa Cefala (University of California, Berkeley) involves studying the impact of lockdown on intra-state migrant laborers in Tamil Nadu. The lab has been conducting phone surveys with these migrant laborers, who were part of past research that involved studying labor supply in labor stands[1] based in Chennai.


This page consists of resources from our primary data collection for the study that measures impact of covid-19 on intra-state migrant daily wage workers. The following items are available for download:

[1] Labor stands are gathering points located mostly in suburbs and sometimes in central parts of the city for daily wage labourers to gather and find work. These labor stands witness various recruiters mostly from the field of construction come by and recruit people for a particular job. Majority of the times, work found through these stands are extremely short term, spanning between 1 to 7 days.