The COVID-19 pandemic and migrant workers from rural Bihar. WP No. 6/21

The COVID-19 pandemic and migrant workers from rural Bihar


Based on phone interviews with more than 1600 households in rural Bihar, this study provides rapid survey-based evidence on the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on casual and migrant workers from rural Bihar. The evidence shows that more than half of rural households had at least one migrant worker prior to the pandemic, and for 94 percent of these households, their migrant workers’ livelihood was adversely affected. There was large-scale reverse migration with a large fraction of returning migrants spending as much as 4-5 months in native villages with limited opportunities for alternative work (including MGNREGA employment). The disruption of employment among migrant workers who stayed in destination areas led to drastic cuts in their remittances back home. About one-fifth of the migrant workers who had gone back to the destination areas were still to resume work at destination sites at the time of the survey.


  • Gaurav Datt
  • Swati Dutta
  • Sunil Kumar Mishra

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