Understanding the economic effects and resilience to COVID-19: Evidence from a cash transfer project in Kenya

COVID-19 is causing negative health and economic effects around the globe. Government measures to reduce transmission such as are challenging in many sub-Saharan African contexts, sparking an active debate about the most effective course of action from both epidemiological and economic perspectives.

By using high-frequency phone survey data, this project aims to provide information on the immediate effects of COVID-19 and any policy changes on households and firms in Kenya, as well as whether the receipt of, or spatial exposure to, unconditional cash transfers improve the resilience of households and firms.

The General Equilibrium Effects of Cash Transfers (GE) project, currently studying the long-term effects of a randomised NGO cash transfer program across 653 villages in rural Kenya, has recently conducted a (follow-up) census of 70,000 households and 20,000 enterprises across 653 villages in rural Kenya, which will be used to construct representative estimates without additional in-person interactions.

The database has coverage of vulnerable, elderly and female-headed households, which will allow for testing whether past cash assistance contributes to resilience in households’ and firms’ responses to a crisis.