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Informality and COVID-19 in South Asia

September 9-10, 2020



Among the world’s developing regions, South Asia has the highest share of informal employment. More than 80 percent of workers in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan are informal. These workers are excluded from labor laws and social protection schemes that apply to organized labor and the specific risks associated with COVID-19 exacerbate their situation. Informal workers are particularly vulnerable to shocks as they tend to have less cash on hand and more limited access to credit. They are also more likely to lose their jobs and face extreme poverty and food insecurity as the pandemic intensifies across the region. The 6th South Asia Economic Policy Network Conference on Informality and COVID-19 in South Asia brings together academics, policy advisors, health policy experts, and civil society leaders to discuss the impacts of the pandemic on the region's most vulnerable people.

  • Wednesday, September 9, 2020 

    7:00-7:10 AM (EST) Opening Remarks

    Speaker: Mari Pangestu, Managing Director – Development Policy and Partnerships, World Bank

    Session 1: Insights from Surveys

    7:10-7:20 AM (EST) COVID-19 and the Future of Microfinance in Pakistan Presenter: Farah Said, Lahore School of Economics

    7:20-7:30 AM (EST) Insights from Business Pulse Surveys in South Asia

    Presenter: Arti Grover, World Bank

    7:30-7:40 AM (EST) Small and Medium Firms during the COVID19 Pandemic: Evidence from Bangladesh Presenter: Atiya Rahman, BRAC Institute of Governance & Development

    7:40-7:50 AM (EST) Implications of COVID-19 for Employment and Earnings in Bangladesh

    Presenter: Maria Eugenia Genoni, World Bank

    7:50-8:00 AM (EST) Summary and Discussion

    Discussant: Shanta Devarajan, Georgetown University

    8:00-8:10 AM (EST) General Discussion

    8:10-8:15 AM (EST) Short Break

    Session 2: Insights from India

    8:15-8:40 AM (EST) Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Labour Supply, Wages and Gross Value Added in India

    Speaker: Sargam Gupta, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

    Discussant: Nayantara Samra, World Bank

    8:40-9:05 AM (EST) Lights Out? COVID-19 Containment Policies and Economic Output

    Speaker: Tarun Jain, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

    Discussant: Pavel Chakraborty, Lancaster University

    9:05- 9:30 AM (EST) How Productive is Public Investment? Evidence from Formal and Informal Production in India

    Speaker: Abhinav Narayan, Reserve Bank of India

    Discussant: Sabyasachi Kar, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy

    9:30-9:35 AM (EST) Short Break

    9:35-9:45 AM (EST) Summary and Open Questions

    Speaker: Hans Timmer, Chief Economist for the South Asia Region, World Bank

    9:45-10:30 AM (EST) Keynote Lecture

    Speaker: Christopher Woodruff, Professor, Oxford University

    Connection for Day 1 of Conference: Click here

  • Thursday, September 10, 2020 

    7:00-8:15 AM (EST) Preview of the South Asia Economic Focus

    Speaker: Maurizio Bussolo, Lead Economist, World Bank

    Discussant: Ravi Kanbur, Cornell University

    8:15-8:30 AM (EST) Short Break – Transition to World Bank Live for Expert Panel

    8:30-10:00 AM (EST) Expert Panel

    Opening remarks: Illango Panchamuthu, Director, Strategy and Operations, South Asia Region, World Bank

    Ishrat Husain, Advisor for Institutional Reforms and Austerity to the Prime Minister of Pakistan

    Renana Jhabvala, National Coordinator of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) of India, Chair of SEWA Bharat and co-founder and board chair of WIEGO

    Ravi Kanbur, Professor of World Affairs, International Professor of Applied Economics, and Professor of Economics at Cornell University

    Sabina Faiz Rashid, Dean, School of Public Health, BRAC University

    Moderator: Hans Timmer, Chief Economist for the South Asia Region, World Bank

    Connection for Day 2 (SAEF preview): Click here

    Policy Panel livestream: Click here


  • Conference : September 9-10
  • Contact Person: Rana AlGazzaz
  • Email Address: