Evidence for policymaking to help Myanmar workers affected by COVID-19

Project Active from to State Effectiveness

In Myanmar COVID-19 is expected to significantly increase unemployment. This study will evaluate the impact of wage vouchers through a trial of workers across different sectors to be able to provide policy recommendations.

In Myanmar, as many as 100,000 female garment workers are expected to be laid off in the first three months since the beginning of COVID-19, and 75,000 workers in hotel/ restaurant industries and many in the informal sector are expected to be unemployed due to the pandemic.

Over 90% of the working population (including informal sector) are out of the social security system which covers health and accident, but not unemployment benefits.

There is evidence for two types of policies to help workers affected by COVID-19: expanding coverage of the social security system and providing wage vouchers to retain the workers. There is pressure to expand the coverage of social protection during this crisis and wage vouchers would protect work relationships- accumulated learning and job-specific skills, potentially mitigating COVID-19’s longer term economic impacts.

This study aims to evaluate the impact of wage vouchers, conducting a randomised controlled trial in the garment sector with 200 working and 900 laid off workers. We will also expand this initial picture by studying 100 hospitality and 100 construction workers, all currently working. The RCT will allocate vouchers to laid off garment workers to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 and the data will provide recommendations for effective compensation and social security schemes.