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Falling living standards during the COVID-19 crisis: Quantitative evidence from nine developing countries

Dennis Egger, Edward Miguel, Shana S Warren, Ashish Shenoy, Elliott Collins, Dean Karlan, Doug Parkerson, Ahmed Mobarak (), Günther Fink, Christopher Udry (), Michael Walker, Johannes Haushofer, Magdalena Larreboure, Susan Athey, Paula Lopez-Pena, Salim Benhachmi, Macartan Humphreys, Layna Lowe, Niccoló F Meriggi, Andrew Wabwire, C Austin Davis, Utz Johann Pape, Tilman Graff, Maarten Voors, Carolyn Nekesa and Corey Vernot

Department of Economics, Working Paper Series from Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley

Abstract: Despite numerous journalistic accounts, systematic quantitative evidence on economic conditions during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic remains scarce for most low- and middle-income countries, partly due to limitations of official economic statistics in environments with large informal sectors and subsistence agriculture. We assemble evidence from over 30,000 respondents in 16 original household surveys from nine countries in Africa (Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone), Asia (Bangladesh, Nepal, Philippines), and Latin America (Colombia). We document declines in employment and income in all settings beginning March 2020. The share of households experiencing an income drop ranges from 8 to 87% (median, 68%). Household coping strategies and government assistance were insufficient to sustain precrisis living standards, resulting in widespread food insecurity and dire economic conditions even 3 months into the crisis. We discuss promising policy responses and speculate about the risk of persistent adverse effects, especially among children and other vulnerable groups.

Keywords: Humans; Family Characteristics; Seasons; Domestic Violence; Government Programs; Developing Countries; Agriculture; Adult; Child; Employment; Income; Africa; Colombia; Asia; Female; Male; Economic Recession; Pandemics; Surveys and Questionnaires; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Food Insecurity; Basic Behavioral and Social Science; Behavioral and Social Science (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021-02-05
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-sea
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