Recovery from the COVID-19 shock and the informal labour market in urban Uganda

As COVID-19 cases continue to escalate across developing countries, many governments reimposed harsh lockdown policies, reversing months of gradual economic recovery. In Uganda, public transport and non-essential businesses were suspended for 42 days, echoing a prior shutdown through April-June 2020. These restrictions significantly impacted the informal economy, where workers are especially vulnerable given the lack of formal contracts, employment benefits or protection.

We combine a rich cross-sectional survey of firms and their workers from 2018-19 and phone interviews to study how manufacturing firms in urban Uganda reacted to the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. Through a follow-up phone survey, we plan to further study: (1) the longer-term impact of COVID-19 related restrictions on manufacturing firms and workers and the speed of recovery; (2) lessons from these multiple aggregate shocks on the functioning of informal urban labour markets.

First, we aim to generate policy-relevant and timely data on the pace of economic recovery once the ongoing restrictions are eased. Second, we hope to make a novel academic contribution by examining micro-foundations of the functioning of urban labour markets from within-firm employment relationships.

Outputs

  • Publication - Project Report

    Recovery from the COVID-19 shock and the informal labour market in urban Uganda

    As coronavirus cases escalated across developing countries in 2021, many governments reimposed harsh lockdown policies, reversing months of gradual economic recovery. This was also true in Uganda, where public transport and non-essential businesses were suspended for 42 days (Presidential order, 18 June 2021) echoing a prior shutdown through April-June 2020. These...

    7 Jul 2022 | Vittorio Bassi, Jung Hyuk Lee, Alessandra Peter, Tommaso Porzio, Ritwika Sen, Esau Tugume

  • Publication - Policy Brief

    Recovery from the COVID-19 shock and the informal labour market in urban Uganda

    We conducted a phone survey of a representative sample of manufacturing firms and their workers in Uganda in Spring 2022, two years after the onset of the pandemic. We find that the second lockdown implemented in Uganda in June- July 2021 resulted in a sharp increase in business closures, but these were largely temporary. However, a sizeable share of firm owners...

    25 Jul 2022 | Vittorio Bassi, Jung Hyuk Lee, Alessandra Peter, Tommaso Porzio, Ritwika Sen, Esau Tugume