Personal Wellbeing Index: Who feels the safest and healthiest during the Coronavirus lockdown?

Team CVoter conducted a series of surveys in December 2019, April 2020 and May 2020 to find out the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) of Indians across the country. The PWI asked respondents about their levels of satisfaction, corresponding to different domains in their life such as their standard of living, health, personal relationships, future security and others.

Respondents rate their levels of satisfaction on a scale of 0 (least satisfied) to 10 (most satisfied) for all domains. In today’s post, Team Polstrat breaks down how Indians’ feel about their safety and health have changed before and during the Coronavirus crisis.

Overall, Indians reported a higher level of satisfaction with both their health and safety in wave 3 (May) than before the Coronavirus (December). For both safety and health domains, a huge dip in satisfaction levels was reported in April (Wave 2), when the nation-wide lockdown to contain the Coronavirus had just been rolled out. The initial panic and uncertainty about the virus seem to have subsided by the next month as respondents reported higher levels of satisfaction in health and safety in May as compared to December last year.

Additionally, when compared to other domains of personal wellbeing, such as security and standard of living, respondents’ drop in satisfaction with their health and safety was much lesser. Respondents reported a 1.33 point drop in levels of satisfaction with their health and 1.17 point drop in satisfaction levels with their safety (from December to April).

Respondents reported a much higher drop in satisfaction levels in other domains such as standard of living (2.04 point decline), future security (1.75 point drop) and life achievements (1.95 point drop) for the same time period.

Who feels the safest?

Amongst all the occupation groups, land-owning farmers (8.09), government employees (7.44) and private sector employees (7.56) reported some of the highest levels of satisfaction with their safety, while landless agricultural labour (4.09) and general labour (5.63) reported the lowest.

In the third wave of the survey, general labour (7.77) and landless agricultural labourers (8.67) reported a huge surge in levels of satisfaction about their safety. Their satisfaction levels in May were significantly higher than before the Coronavirus crisis in December 2019.

Safety across all income groups rose as income rose in the first wave of the survey in December 2019. However, higher-income group respondents reported the highest decline in levels of satisfaction with their safety in April (Wave 2) of 1.93 points, followed by low-income group respondents (1.12 point decline). Overall, both low and medium-income groups reported a slight increase in their levels of satisfaction with their safety in May (wave 2) As compared to the pre-Coronavirus crisis, high-income groups reported a decline of roughly 0.5 points.

When comparing satisfaction levels with safety across social groups, other Backward Classes (OBC) (7.63) Upper Caste Hindus (7.53), and Scheduled Tribes (ST) (7.15) reported the highest levels before the Coronavirus crisis in December.

At the same time, the lowest levels of safety were reported by Christians (4.62) and Sikhs (6.09). All social groups reported a higher level of satisfaction with their safety in wave 3 of the survey than compared to before the Coronavirus crisis (wave 1). Christians reported the highest increase in their level of satisfaction in their safety (4.81 point increase) from December 2019 to May 2020.

It is interesting to note that this overall improvement in satisfaction with levels of personal safety also corresponds to a reported increase in trust in law enforcement and the central and state governments. Another Team C-Voter survey conducted in April 2020 showed that levels of trust Indians across the country place in the police forces as an institution has increased drastically in 2020 to an all-time high of 69.9%.

Similarly, Indians trust in the Central and State governments has increased by 18.3% in 2020 as compared to 2018. This increase in trust in both law enforcement and the government could perhaps attribute to an increased feeling of personal security and safety for all.

Who feels the healthiest?

Across occupation groups, people report a higher level of satisfaction with their health in the third wave of the survey. While levels of satisfaction dipped in April, they have risen for most occupation groups to higher or similar levels than those recorded before the Coronavirus crisis.

Landless agricultural labourers, housewives, private-sector workers and business owners have reported the highest increases in levels of satisfaction with their health from December 2019 to May 2020. At the same time, general labour and businessmen have reported a slight decline.

Satisfaction with health across education groups increased with education levels both before and during the Coronavirus crisis. Overall, all education groups have recorded similar levels of satisfaction with their health in the third wave of the survey (May) as compared to before the Coronavirus crisis in December 2019.

In the second wave of the survey, the highest decline in satisfaction levels about their health was reported by those in the low education group (1.45 point decline), followed by higher education group (1.19 point decline) and middle education group (1.03 point decline).

Similar to the pattern of safety, respondents across social groups have reported a higher level of satisfaction with their health in May as compared to before the Coronavirus crisis (wave 3). Groups that have recorded the highest increase in their satisfaction with their health are others (1.86 point increase), followed by Sikhs (1.27 point increase), Scheduled Tribes (0.52 point increase) and Christians (0.5 point increase) from December 2019 to May 2020.

An upward trend in satisfaction: landless agricultural labourers and general labourers

We observe that general labour (7.77) and landless agricultural labourers (8.67) reported a huge surge in levels of satisfaction about their safety. In fact, they even reported higher or almost similar levels of satisfaction about their health in May 2020 as compared to December last year.

The initial decline in satisfaction levels in health (0.8 for general labour, 1.57 for agricultural) and safety (0.79 for general labour, 1.91 for agricultural) recorded in wave 2 in April quickly subsided by May (wave 3). This sudden increase could perhaps be attributed to the receipt of relief packages granted by the government and special trains arranged for migrant workers to return to their hometowns.

Migrant workers boarding a special train in Jaipur during the nation-wide lockdown. (Source: PTI)

As of May 14, the Indian Railways has run around 800 special shramik trains to transport over 10 lakh migrant workers back to their homes. Being back in their native places could definitely have an impact on their satisfaction with health and safety.

Similarly, the government also released Rs 27,281 crore to beneficiaries in cash and social security transfers in April, in addition to free food grains and cooking gas cylinders, all of which could have improved satisfaction levels of labourers and agricultural workers. In fact, several state governments have also released relief packages to migrant and unregistered workers.

Read the full infographic in Hindi and English.

From Polstrat, a non-partisan political consultancy which aims to shift the narrative of political discourse in the country from a problem-centric to a solutions-oriented approach. All survey findings and projections are based on the Team CVoter “Personal Wellbeing Survey” survey carried out in December 2019, April 2020 and May 2020 among 18+ adults statewide, including every major demographic (Sample Size: 2488). Team CVoter (Center For Voting Opinions and Trends in Election Research) is a leading international stakeholder research organization with its roots in India.

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Polstrat is a political consultancy aiming to shift the narrative of political discourse in the country from a problem-centric to a solutions-oriented approach.