Women are underrepresented as both providers and users of mobile money services: they account for a small fraction of agents, and in Bangladesh, only 10 percent of women, compared to 32 percent of men, had mobile money accounts as of 2017 (Global Findex). The underrepresentation of women is an issue particularly in the context of COVID-19, where a vast majority of transfer payments have been made digitally.
Intrapartum and postpartum care are essential to the health and well-being of mothers, infants, and families. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, resources have shifted away from providing preventative services for mothers and newborns.
Cash assistance in emergency settings has been shown to assist recipients in mitigating resulting economic fallout, for example through increased food security. The VAT Compensation, a new unconditional cash transfer in Colombia, assists 1 million low-income households in navigating the economic crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Digitizing government cash transfers may boost usage of formal financial services among vulnerable households and women’s economic empowerment, but poor delivery of these digital transfers could increase the risks that beneficiaries face. In this project, IPA is partnering with Aspire to Innovate (a2i), in Bangladesh to understand how beneficiaries, particularly women, are notified of and receive their payments.
Recent evidence has pointed to the importance of socio-emotional skills development for improving business outcomes and for helping to close the gender gap between male- and female-owned small businesses.
Digital credit in Kenya has become a tool for households and small businesses to manage their day-to-day expenses, but concerns have been raised regarding rising household debt levels and defaults. In this project, IPA will collaborate with the Digital Lenders Association of Kenya (DLAK) to analyze credit data with a new information sharing system and measure the system’s effects on issues such as multiple lending, loan screening, and defaults.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated social and economic downturn are undermining children's educational and developmental outcomes, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Leveraging an on-going longitudinal study, researchers in Ghana conducted phone surveys and other research activities to measure the pandemic’s repercussions on children’s education and broader developmental outcomes.
Host populations often believe they are negatively affected by refugees, but little is known about what kinds of assistance might foster positive relations and reduce tension. To address this, researchers are conducting a randomized evaluation in Uganda to measure the impact of programs supporting microenterprises on economic and social outcomes, including support for hosting more refugees and allowing them to work.
As of January 2021, COVID-19 has infected approximately 85.2 million people and killed more than 1.84 million people worldwide. Given the importance of individual behavior change in containing the spread of a pandemic, individuals must learn, trust, and apply various recommended health behaviors. In Ghana, researchers are measuring the impact of a quiz-style information strategy on people’s learning and adherence to COVID-19 health protocols.
How do cash transfers support newly-designated vulnerable populations and informal workers during an economic crisis? To help answer these questions, researchers studied the effect of Ingreso Solidario (Solidarity Income), a new unconditional cash transfer in Colombia that was launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Money sent home by migrants working abroad is an important source of income, particularly in low and middle-income countries. How do pandemic closures and restrictions affect migrants' remittances? Researchers built on a previous study to conduct two rounds of phone surveys between Filipino migrants in the UAE and their families in the Philippines.
In this study, we consider the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on family formation and dissolution. We use national microdata covering all marriages and divorces in Mexico and an event-study design. Our findings indicate that over March through December of 2020, marriage rates declined by 54% and divorce rates by 43%. By the end of 2020, divorce rates recover back to baseline levels, but marriage rates remain 30% below the 2017-2019 baseline level.
In this paper, we investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility and newborn health in Mexico. We use national administrative data and an event-study design to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on fertility and delivery characteristics. Our findings suggest that Mexico’s fertility rate declines temporarily for conceptions that would have occurred during the stay-at-home order.
Using an individual-level experiment with male and female caregivers of young children in El Salvador, we evaluate the impact of a free digital stress management and positive parenting intervention. We find that, for males, the intervention increased stress and anxiety and lowered caregiver-child interactions. The effect on males is concentrated among the poorer and those residing with a partner. In contrast, women’s mental health was not impacted.
In 2019, Uganda imposed Africa’s strictest lockdown measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, closing businesses and schools, and banning sales of non-food items at open markets, public gatherings, and the use of vehicles for non-essential purposes. This work builds on two previously implemented RCTs of the Educate! Experience and Skills for Effective Entrepreneurship Development (SEED) program and will shed light on the impacts of COVID-19 on young people in Uganda.
IPA, George Washington University, and Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) researchers have been implementing a study with Bangladeshi adolescents since 2017 to understand both transitions to adulthood and ‘what works’ to improve their transitions to adulthood. COVID-19 may affect their education, skills acquisition, and job prospects by limiting access to education
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused substantial challenges for small businesses across Kenya, where some enterprises recorded a drop of as much as 44 percent in revenue in the early months of the pandemic (Egger et al. 2020). Women entrepreneurs may face an especially high burden due to increased childcare responsibilities from school closures.
In low- and middle-income countries, firms owned by women typically have lower profits than those owned by men. COVID-19 has exacerbated this profit gap as women-owned firms tend to be concentrated in sectors where demand has dropped the most, such as services, hospitality, and retail trade. Childcare is an additional constraint for women-led businesses. In one setting, up to 37 percent of female owners bring small children to work, compared to zero men (Delecourt and Fitzpatrick 2021).
The ready-made garment (RMG) sector in Bangladesh is the main source of formal wage employment for women that constitute a majority of its 4 million workers. The sector has been instrumental in increasing women’s labour force participation in Bangladesh. Demand-side constraints and health concerns introduced by COVID-19 forced factory closures across Dhaka and Chittagong for much of April 2020.
- Economic outcomes plummeted in the first months of the pandemic but rebounded quickly. Participants’ base salaries were halved during the month of April, and their overall household incomes declined by a similar amount. Households’ average incomes returned to 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels within a few months, and rebounded fully by the end of 2020. The recovery was slower, however, for the poorest 25 percent of households, and those in the bottom ten percent remained below their pre-pandemic income levels.
- Households cut food consumption, with women bearing the brunt of the impact. Overall, households experienced a dip in food consumption that followed a similar pattern to income, though it was less severe. Households reduced consumption of protein-rich foods like meat, fish, and eggs. In the first survey round, consumption cuts were distributed equally between men and women, but as time went on, women reduced their consumption significantly more than men on average.
- Stress and anxiety increased after the worst economic conditions had passed. Participants’ reported levels of stress rose significantly in late 2020. In September, fewer than ten percent of participants reported moderate or severe stress, but by December that figure was over 20 percent. Participants identified worry about having enough food to feed their families and illness in their households as particularly salient causes. Women reported particularly high rates of anxiety, frequently related to an ill family member.