“How Deep is the COVID-19 Recession? Evidence from Kenya and Beyond”
Edward Miguel, UC Berkeley
Abstract: Despite numerous journalistic accounts, systematic quantitative evidence on the evolution of economic conditions during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic remains scarce for most low and middle income countries, in part due to the limitations of official economic statistics in environments with large informal sectors and subsistence agriculture. I will focus on novel evidence from a detailed and large-scale panel data collection effort in rural Kenya, documenting the evolution of living standards over time as well as the effects of an earlier cash transfer program. I also discuss results from over 30,000 respondents in an ensemble of 16 original household survey samples collected in nine countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The data documents declines in employment and income across socioeconomic strata beginning in March 2020, resulting in widespread food insecurity and the risk of persistent adverse effects, especially among children and other vulnerable groups.
Bio: Prof. Miguel’s research focus is African economic development, including work on the economic causes and consequences of violence; the impact of ethnic divisions on local collective action; interactions between health, education, environment, and productivity for the poor; and methods for transparent social science research.