NBER

Shilpa Aggarwal, Dahyeon Jeong, Naresh Kumar, David Sungho Park, Jonathan Robinson, Alan Spearot

Bibliographic Information

NBER Working Paper No. 27932
Issued in October 2020
NBER Program(s):DEV

Available Formats

Abstract

We quantify the effect of market disruptions due to COVID-19 on the lives of households in rural areas of Liberia and Malawi, utilizing panel data from phone surveys that were implemented as part of a randomized cash transfer experiment. The surveys began collection several months before the pandemic and have continued throughout it. The household survey included a consistent set of internationally accepted and validated questions on food security (the household dietary diversity score, the household hunger scale, and the food consumption score). In both countries, market activity was severely disrupted and we observe large declines in income among market vendors, but we find no evidence of declines in food security for households in the short run. Even though we observe no adverse effects of the lockdowns on food security among the control group, cash transfers improved dietary quality and quantity over the low levels observed at baseline.

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