One of the outstanding strengths of InM is its long and wide experience in managing and conducting in-depth and varied action and policy research in all major areas of socioeconomic development in developing countries, especially in the context of Bangladesh. The key feature of InM research is its emphasis on conceiving the research frame within an integrated framework to support inclusive and equitable transformation towards prosperity and suggest prudent policy making based on ground realities and lessons learned from development successes both from home and abroad.
The Institute specifically works on strengthening the links between financial and real sectors in priority areas including inclusive finance, digital financial services, poverty, gender equality, human dignity, and inclusive development. Over the years, InM has completed several research studies under the funding of various donor organisations like, DFID, JICA, UNDP, FAO, Plan International, European Union, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Nathan Associates London Limited, IGES, PKSF and others. Total number of policy/research studies conducted by InM over the last 14 years is 78. The following research studies are currently ongoing:
The Psychology of Covid-19 and Financial Behaviour: The Urban Middle Class in Bangladesh
This InM online survey based study captures the adjustments in economic behaviour and changes in the choice of financial instruments by the urban middle class due to Covid-19 pandemic in Bangladesh. The analysis shows that 43 per cent of the surveyed households have experienced income losses; 57 per cent of the lower middle class (LMC) households suffered income losses as against only 19 per cent of the upper middle class (UMC) households. This shows a more stable income source for the UMC households. Nearly one-third of the LMC households reduced their food costs compared with 6 per cent of the UMC households to mitigate the income effect of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, the middle class households have transformed their financial behaviour more towards digital and online markets with nearly two-thirds reporting high reliance on online purchases. The observed changes indicate a long term transformation in the financial behaviour of the middle class households. The study highlights the need for elimination of all sources of vulnerability of the country’s middle class, specifically the challenges of the LMC. The rising expectations of the expanding middle class are the critical drivers of social change in Bangladesh, needed to overcome the low living standards of the majority of the population and reach the cherished goal of emerging as a high income country by 2041. The key for such dynamic transformations is the creation of a more learning middle class; that is, a dynamic middle class that would be ready to exploit the opportunities of the ‘new normal’ after the Covid-19 pandemic.