- During the pandemic, millions of people were forced into poverty due to job losses
- The middle-class population has shrunk to 66 million people
- According to the Pew Center, the number of poor people has increased by 75 million
The financial complications caused because of the pandemic induced by last year’s coronavirus pandemic, as per the report which was released today, have driven about 32 million Indians out of the middle class, undoing years of economic gains, while job losses have pushed millions into poverty.
According to the Pew Research Center in the United States, the number of Indians in the middle class, described as those earning between $10 and $20 (Rs700-Rs1,400) per day, has shrunk by around 32 million, relative to the number that might have been reached in the absence of the pandemic.
The number of people in the middle class has shrunk to 66 million a year after the pandemic, down a third from a pre-pandemic estimate of 99 million, according to the report.
According to the Pew Research Center, which cited World Bank economic growth forecasts, “In the COVID-19 downturn, India is expected to have seen a greater decrease in the middle class and a much sharper increase in poverty than China.”
Between 2011 and 2019, nearly 57 million people entered the middle-income community, according to the study.
In January of last year, the World Bank projected that India and China will rise at nearly the same pace in 2020, at 5.8% and 5.9%, respectively.
However, nearly a year after the pandemic started, the World Bank updated its forecast in January, forecasting a 9.6% contraction in India and 2% rise in China.
After a decrease in cases until early this year, India is experiencing a second wave of infections in some states, and its total of 11.47 million is the third highest after the United States and Brazil.
The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken measures to boost the economy, predicting an 8% contraction in the current fiscal year, which ends this month, before picking up to about 10% in the following fiscal year.
According to the Pew Center, the number of poor people with daily incomes of $2 or less (roughly Rs145) has increased by 75 million as the virus-caused recession has clawed back years of growth.
Millions of households have been further harmed by a nearly 10% increase in fuel prices this year, as well as job losses and wage cuts, prompting many people to pursue work abroad.
According to the survey, however, the decrease in living standards in China was modest, with the number of people in the middle-income community possibly dropping by 10 million and poverty levels remaining unchanged.