On the other hand, average per capita health expenditure has increased for all households, with the increase being the greatest for moderately poor (97 per cent) and non-poor (104 per cent) households.

This study also attempted to assess the inequality in access to online (TV, Internet etc.) education for students: the findings suggest that 19 per cent students from rural regions and 27 per cent students from urban regions participated in some form of online/TV learning. Among the students who took part in online/TV education, 15 per cent belonged to poor households, whereas 26 per cent belonged to non-poor households.

The respondents mentioned the unavailability of online classes (49.1 per cent), no access to technological devices (6.1 per cent), insufficient access to devices (5.3 per cent), insufficient access to internet connection (5.4 per cent), inability to bear the cost of internet connection (6.5 per cent) as the most common reasons behind not being able to participate in online/TV learning.

The study also highlighted a paradox in remittance earnings: although remittance inflows at the macro-level had increased, at the household level, the amount of money received from migrant members had decreased. 82.1 per cent households claimed that they received less remittance from abroad while 64 per cent claimed that they received less remittance from within the country compared to what they received before the pandemic.

A possible explanation for this paradox is that a substantial amount of remittance was received through informal channels prior to the pandemic. Since these channels had been blocked, households received less money compared to before.

Raihan said SANEM, in collaboration with the General Economic Division (GED) of Planning Commission, conducted a nationwide survey covering 10,500 households in 2018. For the present survey, SANEM approached the same set of households and could successfully conduct telephone interviews with 5577 households from 500 Primary Sampling Units (PSUs) distributed across 64 districts.

“The survey questionnaire contained questions related to income, employment, education, expenditure, remittances, experiences with COVID-19 aid and social protection programmes. We updated the poverty line incomes (both lower and upper poverty line) based on the 2018 Household Survey conducted by SANEM and adjusting it for adequate inflation,” he added.

Executive director of SANEM Selim Raihan highlighted five key suggestions—management of the COVID-19 crisis, increasing social safety net coverage including direct cash transfer to the poor, price stability of essential products, reduction of corruption, and creating employment opportunities.

Chairman of the Economics Department professor Mahbubul Mokaddem, economist Zahid Hussain and executive director of Centre for Policy Dialogue Fahmida Khatun also spoke there.

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