As coronavirus begins to spread in developing countries, an important question is whether poor households will adhere to social distancing given the likely inability to work remotely, and the subsequent large income losses. In such a context, mobile money transfers may not only help households maintain consumption levels, they may also complement social distancing policies - those that get the cash may work less, and stay at home more. We are launching a three-arm mobile money transfer study in Ghana to test this idea. Specifically, using a subset of relatively low-income households from the Ghana Panel Survey (a representative panel dataset collected over the last decade) we will randomly assign households to a treatment group that receives eight weekly transfers or a control group the receives only a single transfer. We will examine effects on a battery of economic and psychological measures of well-being as well as adherence with social distancing and self-isolation.
Funding for this project was provided by the UK Department for International Development, awarded through IPA's Peace & Recovery Program.