Listening to Young Lives at Work in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh: First Call

Poverty and inequality
Poverty and shocks
Country report

This brief report provides a first look into the data collected during the first of three calls in Young Lives at Work's Phone Survey in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and highlights some of the key emerging findings.

The Young Lives Phone Survey aims to investigate the short and medium term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health, well-being, transition to the labour market and education trajectories of young people in our study, tracked since 2001 and now aged 18 and 25.

This brief provides a snapshot of the current situation in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.  The second phone survey will ask in more depth about young people’s labour market experiences and how this is affecting their work life, their home life and their education.

The second phone survey call has been piloted and the fieldwork will take place during August-October 2020 in all four Young Lives study countries (Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam).

Additional statistics and summary tables from the first phone survey can be found here.

COVID-19: a snapshot of the pandemic in Young Lives study countries



Whilst the path of COVID-19 remains impossible to predict, and measures to combat it vary country by country, it is, without doubt, having substantial economic and social impacts everywhere and revealing multiple inequalities.  Next week, Young Lives publishes headline findings from our first Phone Survey Call into COVID-19’s impact on young people in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam. To set the scene, our Country Directors share a snapshot of the pandemic’s trajectory and impact in their countries and the measures their governments have taken so far.


The extent of COVID-19 cases


In Ethiopia, the first COVID-19 case was reported on the 13th of March, after which the virus spread relatively slowly until July. Ethiopia now ranks 8th out of 57 African countries and by August 4th, 19877 cases and 343 deaths had been recorded.  A recent upsurge in cases is most probably linked to the rainy season (often associated with flu viruses) and exacerbated by recent political unrest. 


The first COVID-19 case in India was reported on January 30th. Since then the epidemic has grown exponentially and by August 4th India ranked third in the world, with 1.9 million confirmed cases and 39,820 associated deaths. The number of confirmed cases and deaths per million people is still low at 934 and 22, respectively, but given India’s 1.4 billion population and rampant poverty, this is widely expected to increase.


Peru is among the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 globally. As of August 4th there were 439,890 cases and 20,007 deaths. placing Peru 7th in the world with 594 deaths per million people. The death rate may be even higher, given the number of total deaths, from any cause, reported in the country compared to a similar period one year before. 


In early July 2020, Vietnam had only 355 cases, and zero deaths. Placing the country 156th in the world in terms of infections. After approximately 100 days without any new cases caused by community transmission, one new case was reported on July 25th in Da Nang, the country’s third largest city, shortly followed by many other infections related to the area.  By 4th August 2020, there were 672 reported cases and 8 fatalities.

Government measures and emerging impacts




The Ethiopian government’s response was fairly rapid and proactive. Public and religious meetings were banned, education institutions and borders closed and flights cancelled. A State of Emergency was declared on April 8th. Vigorous media campaigns were conducted, including the latest to test 200,000 people in 2 weeks,and social distancing measures were imposed including mandatory facemasks in public and hand washing.  Official messages on preventative measures play before every telephone call. National social protection measures were introduced to make it illegal to lay off workers and increase rents; regional measures addressed food security, utility waivers, social insurance and sick leave; however, some measures continue to be piecemeal and regional approaches differ.

Despite the measures taken, the pandemic has had a crippling effect on the economy, and recent phone surveys show that more than half of households report loss of income during this period.  

COVID-19, is affecting people disproportionately according to their gender, age, location, occupation, health, wealth and vulnerability.  There is a greater concentration of cases in the capital, Addis Ababa, (77%) and amongst men (61%). Yet, women are seriously affected too, losing paid work, increasing unpaid care work and suffering from increasing risk of gender based violence. Deaths are highest amongst the elderly (74%>50; 43%>60) but over half the cases are among young people (56%<30; 43% 21-30). Children and youth have been affected by the closure of educational institutions and the interruption of school feeding.  




India went into nationwide lockdown at the end of March. After 3 extensions it became the longest lockdown ever imposed by a country. Only essential services were allowed and educational institutions, flights, trains, metros, hospitality services and large gatherings of any kind were prohibited. Steps were taken to boost health infrastructure and a campaign on the importance of social distancing and personal hygiene launched. 

Despite the Government of India advising employers not to lay off or reduce employees’ wages, the workforce shrank by 122 million in April 2020. With factories and workplaces shut, millions of migrant workers faced losing their livelihoods. The IMF have forecast that the Indian economy will shrink by 4.5% in 2020-21

The Government initiated a number of measures to ease the plight of migrants and alleviate economic loss. Unlock 1.0 came into effect on June 8, 2020 when various restrictions were relaxed. 

COVID-19 is having multi-faceted impacts on the health and wellbeing of individuals as well as for the economy in general.  Children and youth have been affected by the shutdown of educational institutions and despite schemes promoting online classes, a huge digital divide excludes vulnerable students with limited or no internet facilities. While State educational institutes move to upgrade infrastructure and teachers’ skills, this remains an uphill task. India also faces a shortage of healthcare personnel and existing hospitals are poorly equipped with inadequate infrastructure




Peru’s government took early measures against COVID-19, including a country-wide quarantine on March 17 and a curfew which is still in place. The lockdown, which continues today for some regions and businesses (e.g. no international travel is allowed, all education institutions are closed and any type of social gathering or performance is prohibited), is expected to lower Peru’s GDP by around 12%, (which would be the largest impact in Latin America).

Government measures included various unconditional cash transfers, and people in need were allowed to withdraw part of their retirement funds. Businesses have been offered loans (drawing heavily on national reserves) but despite this, a large number are expected to declare bankruptcy and poverty is expected to increase from 2019 levels (of 20.2% of the population)

Efforts have been made to expand health facilities with intensive care units specifically oriented to COVID-19 patients. But, most of these have already reached full capacity; the need for more beds, oxygen and health professionals is reported in the news daily. 

For preschool, primary and secondary education, the government quickly implemented the Aprendo en Casa(Learning at Home) program, providing educational content via TV, radio and digital devices. While TV and radio have extensive reach, internet availability is more limited (urban access (62%) much greater than in rural areas (18%)) and this is expected to widen the large gaps in learning levels between urban and rural students after the emergency. University classes are being held through virtual devices but high levels of students are unable to enroll due to the need to work or because of health issues. 

The fear of getting sick, the worries about not being able to work or study, and the pressures from being isolated are expected to generate mental health problems in many families.




The Government of Vietnam responded swiftly to the crisis, benefitting from experience with previous outbreaks, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), in 2003. The Prime Minister immediately prioritized health over economic concerns. Strict containment measures included school closures, banning large gatherings, closing down non-essential businesses, closing borders, imposing a mandatory quarantine period of 14 days for all arrivals from abroad and extensive contact tracing of reported cases. From April 1st, a fifteen day nationwide lockdown was implemented. Only essential businesses were allowed to open, provided that workers followed strict health guidelines, while people were ordered to stay at home and only go out in case of emergencies. 

In what is considered a “whole-society fight”, unique to Vietnam, these measures were rapidly implemented by the military, public security services, mass organizations and the general public. Details on symptoms, protective measures, and testing sites were communicated through traditional and social media, via mobile phones and specialized apps, and have resulted in wide public support and associated good implementation of social distancing measures countrywide.

Despite this, the pandemic has had significant economic and social impacts. According to the General Statistical Office, GDP for the first six months of 2020 grew by only 1.81 % compared to the same period last year (below the average rate of 5.44 % this decade). The pandemic has affected the employment of 30.8 million people aged 15 and older and incomes declined by over 5% in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019. In response, the Government has employed numerous measures to support the economy, including a relief package worth USD 2.6 billion for the poor and vulnerable people.

According to the Ministry of Health, the fresh outbreak of the virus is more contagious. New restrictive measures limiting travel to and from Da Nang were quickly implemented, followed by testing and tracing travellers coming from Da Nang to other provinces

Looking ahead


Alula Pankhurst – Country Director, Ethiopia

‘ COVID-19 seems likely to become an increasing problem and a feature of life, even as it takes attention away from other serious health risks and food insecurity. Whether the pandemic will get out of hand and overwhelm the health services remains to be seen, but the socio-economic impacts will be lasting and far reaching.'

Renu Singh – Country Director, India

‘While the Indian government has been trying its best to address the challenges related to the health and socio-economic well-being of its citizens, it is clear that the war against COVID-19 is far from over. It is time to invest in infrastructure and create systems that are accessible to all.’ 

Santiago Cueto – Country Director, Peru

'The COVID-19 crisis has revealed multiple inequalities linked to wealth, residence, and on-line access giving rise to dramatic impacts on the opportunities and lives of millions. In 2021 Peru will hold presidential elections. Candidates will be expected to propose improvements in the access to and quality of health, education, social protection and mental well-being services.'

Nguyen Thang, Country Director, Vietnam

‘As this wave is still evolving from day to day, with a rise in confirmed cases in other cities and provinces, further restrictive measures continue to be deployed. “The whole society fight” unfolds again.’ 


Headline reports from the First Call of Young Lives at Work’s Phone Call Survey in Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam will be published next week. Young Lives At Work (YLAW) is funded by the UK's Department of International Development. For more on YLAW, please see our webpage here or follow us on Twitter @yloxford, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Photo credit: © Young Lives / Mulugeta Gebrekidan. The images throughout our publications are of children living in circumstances and communities similar to the children within our study sample.

Young Lives responses to COVID-19

Diego Sanchez-Ancochea,

The devastating pandemic that engulfs us has forced us all to adapt our research and policy priorities, and find new ways to address today´s challenges. Our Young Lives team has proactively responded to the many challenges caused by the COVID-19 shock. We have ambitious and exciting adaptions to our research programme for 2020.  By revising plans for our longitudinal study, we will be able to give rapid headline outcomes on the impact of COVID-19 on young people in our study countries to inform global and national policy responses, and provide longer term analysis on their transitions to adulthood.  But our recent work by no means finishes there. Here the main highlights of what the team is working on. 

YOUNG LIVES AT WORK – Round 6 of the household survey.

Our global team of Young Lives staff around the world have worked incredibly hard over recent months to prepare a sixth quantitative survey round, with new funding for the UK’s Department of International Development (DFID), to deliver our new programme  ‘Young Lives at Work’. However, the pandemic led to an urgent rethink as the team faced substantial challenges to deliver this plan and equally were determined to use the study’s unique position to directly impact further research and policy responses to COVID-19. 

The pandemic reached our four study countries comparatively later than in China and Europe, and like everywhere around the world the full consequences are as yet unknown.  Yet, governments have taken swift action; India, Peru and Vietnam have implemented complete lockdowns of their whole populations, which have hit their countries’ large informal sectors particularly hard. In Ethiopia, the government declared a State of Emergency on 8th April, closing all schools and banning public gatherings.

As the crisis unfolded, and the immediate need to protect the field teams and research participants became paramount, the Young Lives at Work team, led by Deputy Director Marta Favara, proposed postponing the in-person Round 6 survey for a whole calendar year until 2021 and developed a highly ambitious new proposal to conduct an innovative phone survey over the next few months to provide rapid new research and insights into COVID-19 impacts.  We are delighted that DFID has just given the go ahead for this work and grateful for their continuing support and flexibility of funding. 

Our new approach reflects the urgent need to capture the impact of this unprecedented social and economic crisis on people’s lives to generate new information to both share with other researchers and inform national and international policymaking to help minimize the negative short and long-term consequences of this profound shock.  Young Lives’ Country Directors Alula Pankhurst (Ethiopia), Renu Singh (India), Santiago Cueto (Peru) and Nguyen Thang (Vietnam) are leading this work at national level and will continue to engage with leading national policy makers and practitioners to ensure our research informs on specific policy responses and knowledge gaps. 

The Young LIves at Work team adjusting to new ways of working since COVID-19 

Introducing ‘Listening to Young Lives -  The COVID-19 Phone Survey 2020

The ‘COVID-19 Phone Survey will enable Young Lives to inform policy makers on the short-term effects of the pandemic in the first instance.  It consists of an adapted version of the Round 6 survey, with additional questions to directly assess the impact of COVID-19.  Beginning in June, it will comprise of three phone calls with each of our Young Lives respondents, across both our younger and older cohorts, and in all four study countries (reaching an estimated total of around 11,000 young people), and will illuminate urgent questions and challenges, including:

  1. How many people have been affected directly or indirectly by COVID-19 within our Young Lives sample?
  2. What behavior changes have occurred since the crisis began? How have they affected wellbeing? This includes the effectiveness of lockdowns and restrictions on movement and positive health responses. 
  3. What are the short-term effects of the crisis on the lives of young people, including their health, employment and earnings, time use and care responsibilities?
  4. To what extent has the pandemic had a differential effect by gender, economic sector, area of residence, and income levels, possibly exacerbating existing inequalities?
  5. What strategies and policies implemented have a positive impact in mitigating the immediate impact of the pandemic or promoting positive behaviors?

Investigating the medium-term and long-term effects of the crisis

Through the phone survey and data collected subsequently in our Round 6 survey now planned  in 2021, we will be able to analyse both the short and medium-term implications of the crisis on, for example, labour market dynamics, education choices and aspirations, fertility, mental health and wellbeing and exposure to violence.  The longitudinal nature of the survey and four country structure of the study means we will be able to conduct further unique analysis:

  • With the information we have on the life trajectories of two cohorts (and their families), who will be aged 19 and 25 at the time of this survey, we will be able to compare pre-and post COVID-19 outcomes for each cohort.
  • We can make an inter-cohort comparison, between the outcomes of 19 year olds from the Older Cohort in 2013 and the outcomes of the Younger Cohort in 2020. This means we can also control for the trajectories that each cohort was on before the crisis hit (between age 8, 12, 15, and 19). This inter-cohort analysis will provide an important identification strategy to distinguish further whether the changes in outcomes observed are due to life-trajectories or are the true effect of the pandemic. 
  • The four countries structure can inform us about the differential impact of COVID-19 across countries contexts to investigate the effectiveness of various government responses, and provide rapid insights for ongoing and future policy interventions. 

With Round 7 data collection planned for 2023/4, this later survey will allow us to examine the longer-term effects of the pandemic on the lives of those who were at the beginning of their working life when the crisis hit. As of now, the future is highly uncertain, but there will almost certainly be differential effects on young people depending on their situation at the time of the crisis. 


An integral part of the Young Lives project has always been our qualitative longitudinal work conducted with a smaller group of the main cohort in each country. This work, led by Gina Crivello, in collaboration with the Young Lives country teams, generates first-person narrative accounts with young people about their lived experiences of poverty at different ages and phases of their lives. The team are currently researching the way gender and poverty interact in transitions to adulthood, and influence diverging trajectories through education, work and first-time marriage. Although these qualitative data were collected between 2007 and 2019, prior to COVID-19, we have been able to refocus some of our analysis on related current concerns for youth in low – and middle – income countries, such as: experiences of shocks; economic precarity and informal labour; access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; and explaining vulnerability and ‘resilience’ among marginalized youth.

In a blog, published on 15th May, Gina Crivello considers the impact of COVID19 on young people and families in LMICs, who are setting the foundations of their adult lives, and sets out priorities to assist them both during and after the pandemic. 

We are currently fundraising for a new wave of the qualitative fieldwork in 2021, and corresponding research that will elevate youth voices on COVID-19 to consider both the implications of the immediate shock and the longer-term consequences for young people’s transitions into adulthood. 


With 91 percent of the world's learners currently out of school as a consequence of the COVID 19 pandemic, we have decided to adapt our education and gender research (funded by The Echidna Giving Foundation)  Our redesigned research will be based on interviews with school leaders from those schools that participated in the Young Lives school surveys in 2017 across India and Ethiopia. The research will focus on teaching and learning priorities and strategies used during and after school closures and the extent to which they are equally accessible and meaningful for all children. To maximise efficiency and effectiveness we have also agreed to collaborate with other key researchers conducting school leader surveys in other school sub-sectors in Young Lives countries and beyond and we will work together to analyse and disseminate findings through this set of different but connected studies.

Our existing research on school effectiveness and education has significant added value for our understanding of the potential implications of the lockdown on inequality and on learning outcomes. In a blog published on 2nd April, Lydia Marshall and Rhiannon Moore expanded on this issue and considered the effect of unequal access to technologies on teaching and learning. They highlighted that ‘as well as causing further challenges for schools and teachers to address when they are finally able to reopen, this disparity could affect the learning and life chances of many already disadvantaged young people'.  Their argument echoes some of the findings from one of our technical notes co-written by Santiago Cueto two years ago, which highlighted the strong relationship between socio-economic status and access to digital technologies in the four countries of the study. 

Rachel Outhred,  YL senior education researcher, has also co-authored a series of 3 blogs, with Alina Lipcan from the Education Outcomes Fund, which explore the innovative use of education technology (EdTech) to support education delivery during the COVID-19 crisis. 


In months ahead, the team will continue to gather and disseminate vital research evidence in response to the COVID-19 crisis alongside global academic and development communities. Young Lives’ longitudinal approach provides a unique long-term perspective to development problems,  enabling critical connections to be made between early experiences and later outcomes.  By placing the longer-term arc of people’s lives at the center of our thinking, Young Lives is uniquely positioned to provide rapid information on the short term impacts and measured analysis on the longer term outcomes of this current crisis.

Diego Sanchez-Ancochea is the Interim Director of Young Lives



"Food prices were high, and the dal became watery". Mixed-method evidence on household food insecurity and children's diets in India

Poverty and shocks
Nutrition, health and well-being
Journal Article

Food insecurity and malnutrition are key policy priorities in India. Evidence on children’s experiences of household food insecurity and how food insecurity influences their dietary quality is limited for India and other low- and middle-income countries. Evidence on mid-childhood and adolescence is even scarcer. The authors present longitudinal evidence on household food insecurity and child diets by drawing on the India sample of Young Lives, a mixed methods study with two cohorts of children from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana (India).

Analysis of survey data shows that children living in food insecure households had lower dietary diversity and probability of consumption of micronutrient- and protein-rich foods, which are critical for their healthy development. Inequalities in child dietary quality by household food security status were most pronounced at preschool age.

Children identified dietary quality as a critical dimension of their well-being. From an early age, children were able to describe and explain the food security challenges of their families and recognize the negative consequences of household food insecurity on their diets, health and education. Children were found to not only be cognizant of household responses to food insecurity, but they were also actively involved in such strategies through limiting the quantity and quality of food purchased and consumed, reducing dietary diversity, and/or engaging in work or social protection. The latter were often mentioned as critical safety nets in face of economic, demographic or climate shocks, although children expressed criticism about implementation.

Longitudinal mixed methods can enhance our understanding of children’s experiences of household food insecurity and its repercussion on their health and broader well-being. Child-focused evidence is key to shaping social protection implementation to context-specific needs at critical human development stages.

Read the journal article published in World Development, Volume 111, November 2018 here. This builds on a Young Lives Working Paper published in 2015 and related blog, available here. 


Do in utero shocks have adverse effects on child health outcomes and can welfare schemes ameliorate such effects? Evidence from Andhra Pradesh

Poverty and shocks
Journal Article

This study uses Young Lives evidence to assess whether shocks experienced by children in the mother’s womb can have an adverse effect on their future health, and whether these effects can be ameliorated by government welfare schemes. Data were taken from three phases of the Young Lives Survey carried out in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh in 2002, 2007 and 2009–2010. Different types of in utero shock were distinguished from the data. Using ordinary least squares (OLS) estimation, it was observed that multiple in utero shocks reduced children’s weight-for-age and height-for-age z-scores by 0.07–0.08 and 0.08–0.15 units respectively. The roles of two Indian government welfare schemes – the Midday Meal Scheme (MDMS) and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) – in mitigating the adverse effects of in utero shocks were examined. While the effect of the MDMS was statistically insignificant, that of the NREGS was significant. Although not designed to protect child health, the NREGS has been playing a more effective role than the MDMS in acting as a buffer against the damaging effects of in utero shocks on child health. The study points to the need for greater co-ordination between the two welfare schemes.

Read the article here


Can the Major Public Works Policy Buffer Negative Shocks in Early Childhood? Evidence from Andhra Pradesh, India

Poverty and shocks
Social protection
Journal Article

The study examines the role of the largest public works programme in the world—the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS)—in buffering the negative effects of early childhood exposure to rainfall shocks on long-term health outcomes. Exploiting the spatial and temporal variation in NREGS coverage, the study estimates the extent to which nutritional shocks in early childhood can be offset by access to the programme.

The study employs a unique identification strategy by integrating detailed administrative records of drought shock and phased rollout information of NREGS with household-level panel data—the Young Lives survey—conducted over three waves (2002, 2007, and 2009–10) in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. Using individual fixed effects estimation, the study finds that while the policy does not help correct for long-term past health deficiencies it is useful in buffering recent drought shocks, which vary by policy relevant subgroups.


"Can the Major Public Works Policy Buffer Negative Shocks in Early Childhood? Evidence from Andhra Pradesh, India," Aparajita Dasgupta, Economic Development and Cultural Change, online April 2017

Effects of Parental Health Shocks on Children’s Schooling

Poverty and shocks
Journal Article

Article written by Sowmya Dhanaraj, Madras School of Economics using Young Lives data from the UK Data Archive.

This study explores the inter-generational effects of health shocks using longitudinal data of Young Lives project conducted in the southern state of India, Andhra Pradesh for two cohorts of children (younger and older). It is found that health shocks to poorer parents reduce investments in human capital of children thereby reducing their future earnings, and perpetuating poverty and inequality. There is a temporary delay in primary school enrollment in the case of younger cohort, while schooling attainment is reduced by 0.26 years for older children. This paper further contributes to the literature on important dimensions like role of timing of the shocks and the pathways through which they affect human capital investment, differential effects of paternal and maternal shocks on different cohort groups, ability of the children and quality of schooling in schooling attainment.

•    This paper estimates the impact of parental health shocks on educational outcomes of two cohorts of children in Andhra Pradesh, India.
•    Health shocks to mother during early childhood temporarily delay initiation of the child into primary school but paternal shocks have no effect.
•    For older children, paternal health shocks reduce grade advancement by children while maternal shocks have no effect.
•    From time use pattern of children, we find that maternal health shocks divert children’s time to domestic tasks/household chores for both cohorts.
•    Paternal health shocks reduce time spent at school and increase the number of hours spent in paid/unpaid work in the case of older children.

Keywords: Parental health shocks; School enrolment; Grade attainment | JEL classifications O15;  O12;  I30


Sowmya Dhanaraj (2016) 'Effects of Parental Health Shocks on Children’s Schooling: Evidence from Andhra Pradesh, India', International Journal of Educational Development 49: 115–125 (July 2016, early online publication).

Health Shocks and the Intergenerational Transmission of Inequality

Poverty and shocks
Working paper

This paper explores the intergenerational effects of parental health shocks using longitudinal data from the Young Lives project conducted in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is found that health shocks to poorer parents reduce investments in children thereby reducing their future earnings, and perpetuating poverty and inequality. The paper discusses important dimensions like the timing of health shocks and pathways through which they affect human capital investment, differential effects of paternal and maternal shocks on different cohort groups, roles of cognitive abilities of children and quality of schooling in human capital accumulation.

Paper written by Sowmya Dhanaraj (PhD candidate at IGIDR, Mumbai), using Young Lives data from teh UK Public Data Archive

Keywords: parental health shocks, school

Coping with risk and difficult times in rural Andhra Pradesh

Social protection

Countries in the Young Lives study are especially vulnerable to environmental shocks.

On global indicators, Ethiopia is second most at risk of drought, India the third most at risk for flooding, and Vietnam fourth for being affected by storms and tenth for flooding. Poor households tend to be located in the areas most at risk to environmental hazards and to have more precarious livelihoods and so are prone to experience the same shocks repeatedly. Recurrent shocks, combined with food insecurity, have long-term impacts on children'€™s development and well-being.

Children who have experienced food shortages are at additional risk of poorer outcomes in physical health, learning and subjective well-being. Governments have responded by expanding social protection schemes, to attempt to reduce poverty and to provide a safety net in the event of shocks. Our recent research highlights the impact of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) on a rural community in Andhra Pradesh. MGNREGS was introduced in 2005 and provides 100 days of employment a year at a minimum wage rate to every adult in a rural household willing to undertake unskilled manual work.

One of our study sites, Katur village, is located in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh. Katur is a drought-prone area and all the major crops grown, such as sunflower, peanuts, pulses and peas, are dependent on rainfall. During the non-agricultural season, many inhabitants used to migrate in search of paid work to cities like Mumbai and Tirupati and to Bangalore for work in a concrete factory.

Adults report improving living conditions over the years 2007-€“10 and attribute this to the increases in social protection and security schemes. Women described the important role played by more than 20 self-help groups in Katur, organised under the state government IKP programme. One woman explained:

 "€œMany of the families have purchased cows and goats through the group loans. There is no problem repaying the loans and we are regularly repaying the loans taken. We are taking the loans only in [the self-help] groups and completely banned the outside loans which have more interest rates (2 rupees per 100 rupees) ... as the group loans are being provided with one rupee interest."€

This has also meant that there is less bonded labour to repay debts as families no longer need to borrow from Kamma (higher) caste families. However, other women felt that self-help groups were a '€œbig headache'€ as '€œwhen we do not have work, then how can we repay the amount to the self-help groups?'€ In addition not all community members can obtain loans. As one woman explained, '€œIf a household has more sons then there is more inclination to lend money as the family can send the sons to work and repay the amount without fail. As is the case with households who own individual assets like land, there are more chances for recovery of the money.'€

Community members also describe the positive impact of MGNREGS. Among Young Lives households in Katur, 95 per cent had job cards and had worked on the scheme in 2008-€“9. Community members report that migration to urban areas for work has declined and that MGNREGS has created a wage floor. Tejaswini, aged 8, stated that only the landlords had not benefited from MGNREGS as no one was prepared to work for 40 rupees per day any more. Children felt that there was more money available to meet their needs. For example, Triveni, aged 16, described how '€œpreviously when there was less money, I used to buy fewer notebooks and used to write two subjects in one book only. Now after the drought works [MGNREGS] came, I am able to keep one book for each subject.'€

MGNREGS also helps families cope with shocks. Govindh, aged 17, described the struggles his family had faced over the past few years:

"Seeds did not grow in the first year, and the second year rains have not come ... so we didn't harvest ... We did not have money to buy vegetables and other things to celebrate festivals ... so it was not well at home."

In addition, his mother was ill and the family had to pay 10,000 rupees for treatment. Govindh said: 'We borrowed money from my grandmother's village ... We borrowed a little, two, three times', and they also borrowed from his uncle. However, the introduction of the MGNREGS has enabled the family to cope better: 'Through the employment guarantee scheme we cleared the loans.' Govindh works on MGNREGS in the college holidays and at the weekend in order to support his family.


This is one of a series of six case studies included in a new Young Lives paper Changing Children's Lives, which explore how location - where children live - and change - how their communities are transforming - are important factors in the opportunities open to children and the risks they face.

See also:

F. Afridi, F. Mukhopadhyay and S. Sahoo (2013) Female Labour-Force Participation and Child Education in India: The Effect of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Working Paper 95, Oxford: Young Lives.

Laura Camfield and Uma Vennam (2012) From Policy to Implementation: An In-depth Exploration of the MGNREGs in Andhra Pradesh, Working Paper 82, Oxford: Young Lives.

Health Shocks and Coping Strategies: State Health Insurance Scheme of Andhra Pradesh, India

Poverty and shocks
Social protection
Working paper

The objectives of the study are three-fold: to investigate who are vulnerable to welfare loss from health shocks, what are the household responses to cope with the economic burden of health shocks and if policy responses like state health insurance schemes are effective in reducing the economic vulnerability. Existing literature have investigated the impact of state health insurance schemes in reducing the vulnerability to financials risks of medical care using catastrophic health expenditure (CHE) measure. This has several limitations like setting arbitrary threshold levels, exclusion of those that did not seek medical care due to inability to pay and non-accounting for risks posed by different sources of financing. So we use self-reported measure of reduction in economic wellbeing of households due to serious illness or death of one or more members from the recent Young Lives longitudinal study in Andhra Pradesh, India. Three-level random intercept logistic regression analysis that accounts for role of contextual or environmental factors like access to healthcare is used to determine the characteristics of vulnerable population and effectiveness of the state insurance scheme.


Paper written by Sowmya Dhanaraj (PhD candidate at IGIDR, Mumbai) using Young Lives data from UK Public Data Archive.

Keywords: health shocks, coping strategies, state health insurance scheme, three-level random intercept model

JEL classification: I100, I130, O150