The lives of urban youth: Before and after the Ebola epidemic
As a result of the 2014-2015 Ebola crisis in West Africa, there were a total of 10,672 cases of Ebola in Liberia, with 4,808 deaths. Recent reports from the World Bank found that labour activity contracted considerably during the Ebola crisis, and data recently collected (April 2015) by IPA finds that among Monrovia youth, the unemployment rate is 30 percent. This signals a continued and substantial loss of economic activity among Liberians.
This project aims to translate data collected into a policy-relevant report about the effect of Ebola in Monrovia. In addition, the project will pilot a new intervention that takes advantage of a unique set of pre- and post-Ebola data to assist with targeting beneficiaries of a new social program aimed at delivering assistance to households affected by Ebola and poorest households within urban communities of Monrovia.
To accomplish this, we will extend data collection on an existing research study - the PROSPECTS impact evaluation implemented by IPA together with Mercy Corps - in Monrovia to better understand the effects of Ebola. Using a unique dataset from that survey of 2,400 young adults in nine densely-populated communities in Monrovia prior to the onset of the Ebola crisis, and additional data collected after the Ebola crisis, we aim to shed light on how social and economic lives of urban youth have evolved during a year in which the economy of Liberia has been severely affected by Ebola and related public health implications.
The project will also initiate field testing of a cash transfer intervention- distributing $50 to 50 individuals- targeted at youth and households heavily hit by the economic consequences of Ebola in Monrovia. Ultimately, we envision that this research will provide valuable information to assist with (i) targeting of social programs in densely populated communities; (ii) implementation of cash transfer programs a post-public health crisis scenario; and (iii) leveraging altruism within communities in order to reach poor households and households that have faced a major shock.