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.

Researchers:
Study Type:
Quasi-experimental Analysis, Descriptive / Surveillance
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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.

Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation
Study Timeline:
June-November 2020
Results Status:
Results
Results:
The study highlights the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on households: for example, 57 percent of individuals who worked before the pandemic no longer had a job or remunerated activity by the time they were surveyed in June, and 58 percent reported having less to eat during the quarantine. The transfer had positive (albeit modest) impacts on household well-being in financial health and food access.6 The program also ushered in a record expansion of mobile money, with the use of the digital platform almost doubling between the first and second transfers and roughly 75 percent of recipients reporting use of the platform in November 2020. Nevertheless, there were many bottlenecks during the rollout, including delays with the app and connectivity issues. Financial Security: Beneficiaries of the VAT compensation were 15.5 percent less likely to sell their belongings to cover necessary expenses, and more than 90 percent of beneficiary households used the funds for food.  Beneficiaries were also more likely to invest in their children’s educations, and this effect was higher in urban areas. Food Security: Despite an increase of 6.1 percent in the likelihood of recipients purchasing food, researchers did not find that this translated to increased food security. Public Opinion and Community Cohesion: The transfer increased support for emergency assistance to households and firms during the crisis and promoted social cooperation.  Specifically, beneficiaries were 7.4 percent more supportive of the government’s social protection response to the pandemic, and were 3.4 percent more likely to contribute to their community through work (though not money) to support their community. Household health behaviors: Regardless of transfer modality, beneficiaries were 24 percent more likely to leave their home during quarantine to collect payment, which qualitative interviews suggest was driven by a need to “cash out” the payments and misunderstandings around how to retrieve the funds.  The VAT Compensation highlights the importance of developing digital payment ecosystems to facilitate easy deployment and efficacy of cash assistance during crises, such as improving infrastructure to improve connectivity in remote areas. In addition, results from the evaluation drive home the need for clearer communications about the program and financial education and literacy resources for newly banked clients.

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.

Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation, Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
2019-2021
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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.

Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation
Study Timeline:
2019-2021
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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.

Study Type:
Quasi-experimental Analysis, Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
2020-2021
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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. 

Study Type:
Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
2020-2021
Results Status:
Results
Results:
Half of the schools offered remote learning activities. While private schools offered more personalized learning opportunities, public schools promoted government programs on television and radio. Fifty-three percent of public school teachers and 56 percent of private school teachers stated that their schools offered remote education activities. Private schools offered students more individualized distance learning materials and communicated directly with families through online classes or instant messages. Public schools were more likely to give assignments to their students through hard-copy materials and encourage participation in government educational television and radio programming. Private school students had more access to remote learning resources,including electricity (95 percent vs. 89 percent), school textbooks (82 percent vs. 72 percent), television (79 percent vs. 70 percent), reading materials (75 percent vs. 68 percent), and space for learning (66 percent vs. 54 percent). Private school students also received more support from their caregivers: twelve percent of private school students said they received no support from their caregivers during remote schooling, compared to 19 percent of public school students. The type of support also varied by type of school. For example, private school students were 13.8 percent more likely to have a tutor. Students with disabilities were likely more affected by school closures than other groups. Seventy-four percent of teachers were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with the accessibility of TV and radio distance learning for children with disabilities. Likewise, 65 percent of caregivers indicated that either distance learning and/or education resources provided by the school were not accessible for children with disabilities. School closures impacted children's food security. On average, 30 percent of students claimed they experienced hunger in the last 30 days. The effects were greater among students with low socioeconomic status, among public school students, and among boys. Additionally, 6 percent of public school children missed daily lunches delivered through the Ghana School Feeding program. Private school students and students with high socioeconomic status had higher test scores at the end of the school closure period compared with their public-school counterparts. Even after controlling for previous numeracy and literacy scores, private school children outperformed their public school peers by about one-third of a standard deviation. Likewise, students from high socioeconomic status households experienced similar increases in both literacy and numeracy scores. Children from food-insecure households had significantly lower scores than those from food-secure households. Further results on the child and parent direct assessment are forthcoming.

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.

Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation
Study Timeline:
2019-2022
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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.

Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation
Study Timeline:
2020
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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.

Study Type:
Quasi-experimental Analysis
Study Timeline:
2020
Results Status:
Results
Results:
The study found that Ingreso Solidario increased the probability that eligible households maintained an income source during the pandemic and did not disincentivize labor market participation. For households who experienced large labor market shocks (e.g. that lost a majority of their income) during the pandemic, Ingreso Solidario played a particularly important role in allowing households to maintain a source of income.     Overall, the study did not find effects of the program on food consumption. However, for those households that experienced large labor market shocks, the transfers mitigated more than 50 percent of associated drops in food consumption.  Results also showed that the transfers increased the probability of spending on health, such as cleaning supplies, and education, such as school supplies.  Researchers also found that the transfer increased household expenditures on education, and increased the probability that school-aged children spent at least four hours on virtual schooling activities by 11 percentage points. The program also increased the time students spent on education between 27-46 minutes, which represents 9-15 percent more than students from comparison households. However, researchers did not find any effects on the amount of time parents spent with their children on their studies. The team did not find any effects on the probability of being a victim of domestic violence (a concern during the pandemic with lockdowns and increased stresses on families), financial stress, or households’ primary category of concern.  Finally, Ingreso Solidario substantially increased the opening of bank accounts by 14 percentage points (equivalent to 56 percent of the comparison group), and also increased beneficiaries’ likelihood of using digital tools for financial transactions by 7.7 percentage points. While the authors note that usage of bank accounts and digital tools, relative to the proportion that opened new accounts, had a relatively minor effect, this is still an encouraging foundation for expanding financial inclusion and literacy in Colombia. Overall, the authors note that Ingreso Solidario is a successful emergency assistance program, and insights from the program may be used to inform further knowledge on social protection programs.

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.

Partners:
Study Type:
Quasi-experimental Analysis
Study Timeline:
2020-2021
Results Status:
Results
Results:
Of the migrants interviewed, 43 percent said their monthly income fell compared to February 2020. On average, migrants report a decline of 55 percent of monthly income. Using regression analyses, researchers found that migrants who experienced negative income shocks due to the COVID 19 pandemic passed on some of this negative shock to their family members at home. However, the decrease in remittances was lower than the total decline in income, between a tenth and a quarter of income losses.  The research team also examined whether remittances would increase in the face of the economic difficulties faced by households at home. The results showed that the economic conditions of households did not affect the remittances received, as migrants kept their remittances to households in the Philippines relatively stable, except for the decrease in income described above. The ability to label remittances for specific purposes, via Padalapp, does not affect the relationship between remittances and income. More results forthcoming.

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.

Study Type:
Quasi-experimental Analysis, Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
January-December 2020
Results Status:
Results
Key Findings:
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. Overall, our findings indicate that marital dissolutions quickly recovered (6 months into the pandemic), but family formation may be delayed or even permanently reduced.

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.

Study Type:
Quasi-experimental Analysis, Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
January-June 2021
Results Status:
Results
Key Findings:
Our findings suggest that Mexico’s fertility rate declines temporarily for conceptions that would have occurred during the stay-at-home order. Initially, the fertility rate falls by 10% but quickly rebounds and returns to original levels by May 2021. Still, the overall fertility rate remains 3% lower over the post-pandemic period. Similarly, newborn health deteriorates during the pan- demic. Instances of low birth weight and prematurity substantially increase, with both remaining elevated over the entire post-pandemic period.

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.

Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation
Study Timeline:
2021
Results Status:
Results
Key Findings:
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. Yet, their use of physical violence toward children decreased by 18 percent. Our results align with theories linking economic deprivation and family structure to caregivers’ cognitive overload and mental health.

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.

Researchers:
Partners:
Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation, Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
June-December 2021
Results Status:
No Results Yet

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions have disproportionately exacerbated the barriers that women, young people, and low-skilled workers face in transitioning into the labor force in Bangladesh. At the same time, the labor market has become increasingly “wired” with the proliferation of more accessible job matching technologies that smooth and equalize the matching process between workers and firms during a time when physical contact is restricted.

Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation, Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
September 2021-March 2022
Results Status:
No Results Yet

Study Type:
Descriptive / Surveillance
Results Status:
Results
Results:
While schools increased student support during the COVID 19 pandemic, the results revealed growing gender gaps. Female adolescents reported less support for their continued learning from schools and parents, less access to learning materials, more household and care responsibilities, and a sharper decline in higher education ambitions.  Researchers also found evidence of disparities among urban and rural households. For example, adolescents in rural areas had less access to the media and other channels that supported distance learning. Read more details here.   The results also revealed an increased involvement of out-of-school adolescents in paid work during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those from poor households. However, young people looking for jobs reported unavailability of jobs or being underqualified as major constraints in their search. Across contexts, adolescents exhibited very low involvement in vocational training or skill-building programs. Read more details here.   These findings point to the need for targeted education policies to mitigate growing inequalities in learning outcomes and to support skills training programs to support young people's transition to paid work. 

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.

Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation, Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
April-December 2021
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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).

Partners:
Study Type:
Randomized Evaluation, Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
March-July 2021
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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.

Study Type:
Descriptive / Surveillance
Study Timeline:
April 2020- July 2021
Results Status:
No Results Yet

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