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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Panel Data Evidence on the Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Livelihoods in Urban Côte d'Ivoire

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In early March 2020, a few cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Abidjan, the capital city of Côte d’Ivoire. To combat the spread of the disease, large restrictions to mobility and gatherings were introduced between mid-March and late May 2020. We collected panel survey data on over 2,500 individuals from the Greater Abidjan area over the period immediately before and after the start of the pandemic. We document striking drops in employment, hours worked, income, and food consumption in the first months after the onset of COVID-19, when lockdown was in place. We also find that, in response, survey respondents received more private transfers from other parts of the country, at a time when remittances from abroad fell – and that some respondents moved either temporarily or permanently. In terms of recovery, we find that subjective well-being was lower on average in December 2020 than it was at baseline. Yet, despite schools being closed between mid-March and July 2020, school enrollment suffered little: by December 2020, enrollment rates had bounced back to their baseline level. Our results finally indicate that government policies aimed at alleviating the worst effects of lockdown only reached a few people, and not necessarily those most in need.

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