Economic activity and living standards during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from rural Kenya

Policy brief COVID-19

  • Detailed quantitative evidence on the evolution of economic outcomes during the COVID-19 health crisis in low-income countries remains scarce.
  • This study examines the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns using phone surveys from a representative sample of 11,000 households and 5,000 businesses in one of the poorest regions in Kenya.
  • Surveys started early in the pandemic, and are designed to be representative over time, allowing us to trace out dynamics in core economic quantities such as expenditure, income, total sales, prices and local GDP.
  • The findings suggest a precipitous drop in economic activity and analogous negative impacts on household living standards. While households have employed numerous coping strategies, government and NGO support is not sufficiently large to offset losses.