34pc families faced job loss in pandemic

June 25, 2021

It also finds higher child marriages during the pandemic
Around one member of 34 per cent households lost job during between April and October in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic finds a new study by the Centre on International Cooperation at New York University, BRAC and the UN WOMEN Bangladesh.
They conducted the survey on 6,370 households last December across 21 districts, specifically chosen for being migration-prone.
Around 77 percent of the families saw their monthly earnings go down.
The research findings were unveiled at a virtual international dialogue titled “Demographic and socio-economic changes induced by the Covid-19 pandemic: Challenges of new circumstances” yesterday.
The study found that households with returnee migrants saw a higher rate of unemployment — 61 percent. Of these families with returnee migrants, 25 percent expressed concern about repaying their outstanding migration loans, which amounted to Tk 76,000 on average, but can go up to Tk 7 lakh.
Household debt in migrant households increased by 82.4 percent, found the researchers. In addition, households with migrant workers had a larger fall in income when compared to households without migrants.
In spite of this, households with returnee migrants saw a birth rate of 33.4 per thousand population, which is nearly double that of the national birth rate.
“Additionally, the average family size was found to be with 4.7 members, which is higher than the pre-pandemic national average of 4.06 [according to 2016 data],” according to the study findings.
The households tried to cope with these shocks by eating through their savings and taking loans, and on average families experienced a 62 percent decrease in the average monthly savings and a 31 percent increase in debt.
“The international returnee migrants aged 35 and above are 44 percent — qualitative data suggest they have lesser chance to go back due to age related risk aversion and other factors,” said the study.
KAM Morshed, senior director of Brac, presented the research findings.
The study also found that there was a higher incidence of child marriage during the pandemic.
Of the marriages that occurred during the survey period, more than three-fourths of the brides were below 18 years and 61 percent were below 16 years at the time of their marriage.
Shoko Ishikawa, country representative, UN Women Bangladesh, said Bangladesh is one of those countries where schools remain closed for over one and a half years although digital learning opportunities for children are quite inadequate particularly in the rural areas.
“Long period of shutdown of schools has implications on child marriage at an increasing rate and economic challenge is forcing families to get their girl children married off. We need to make sure that social protection measures and social safety nets are reaching the families so that they do not need to resort to such measures,” added Ishikawa.
Columbia University Professor Daniel Naujoks said, “Our economic and social systems are strained and often broken down being exposed to many vulnerabilities. To address these challenges, we need political momentum to really revolutionise the system and find strong large-scale reforms.”
Leah Zamore, humanitarian crises programmme lead at the Center on International Cooperation of New York University, moderated the dialogue.

-With The Daily Star input

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