Task Force on COVID-19 and household surveys

National responses to COVID-19


Many countries have planned or started fieldwork for surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among all household-based surveys, labour force surveys and income and expenditure surveys are the most common ones that might be impacted by COVID-19. Among those responded (122), 82 countries have planned or started fieldwork for labour force surveys and 65 countries for income and expenditure surveys.


Some surveys are more impacted by COVID-19 than others. Non-household based surveys such as price surveys, agricultural surveys and enterprise surveys are less likely to be impacted by COVID-19, with fieldwork for around 70-80 per cent of those surveys neither stopped nor postponed. Household surveys are more likely to be impacted, with the exception of time use surveys. Surveys in developing countries are more likely to be impacted by COVID-19 than those in developed regions.


Limitation in face-to-face interaction and mobility restrictions are the most common challenges to survey operations due to COVID-19. As price surveys and enterprise surveys function differently from other surveys, closures of establishments is the second largest challenges, following limitations in face-to-face interaction in countries.


Many countries reacted quickly in their household survey programmes to challenges faced due to COVID-19. Across all surveys, 56 per cent indicated that change of data collection mode or use other data sources will be implemented. Change of data collection mode or use of other data sources has been the most common strategy across different types of surveys. Many surveys have also incorporated COVID-19 related questions.


Among countries that indicated new data collection mode or alternative data source was introduced, phone surveys is the most common choice. Web survey is the second populous choice for most surveys except for enterprise surveys when countries also turned to administrative data to fill data gap.