Working papers

  • “Did COVID-19 Market Disruptions Disrupt Food Security? Evidence from Households in Rural Liberia and Malawi” (with Shilpa Aggarwal, Dahyeon Jeong, Naresh Kumar, Jonathan Robinson, and Alan Spearot)
    Abstract We quantify the effect of market disruptions due to COVID-19 on the lives of households in rural areas of Liberia and Malawi, utilizing panel data from phone surveys that were implemented as part of a randomized cash transfer experiment. The surveys began collection several months before the pandemic and have continued throughout it. The household survey included a consistent set of internationally accepted and validated questions on food security (the household dietary diversity score, the household hunger scale, and the food consumption score). In both countries, market activity was severely disrupted and we observe large declines in income among market vendors, but we find no evidence of declines in food security for households in the short run. Even though we observe no adverse effects of the lockdowns on food security among the control group, cash transfers improved dietary quality and quantity over the low levels observed at baseline.

Projects in the field

  • “Reducing Intimate Partner Violence of Disadvantaged Women in Monrovia: An Experiment with Red Cross’s Women Training and Integration Program” (with Naresh Kumar)
    Abstract The civil war in Liberia killed around 10% of the population and displaced a majority. Even after more than 15 years of peace, the country is still suffering from the lasting impacts of its civil war, one of them being a permissive environment to violence in everyday lives. While violence against women and girls was systematically mobilized during the war, intimate partner violence (IPV) is highly prevalent in today's Liberia. To address IPV among a war-affected population, we conduct a randomized controlled trial with 1,200 disadvantaged women in Monrovia, Liberia. We evaluate the effectiveness of an unusually intensive female empowerment program that integrates psychosocial support with vocational training and business capital grants targeted towards marginalized women in slum communities.

    [AEA RCT Registry]

  • “The Effect of Cash Transfers and Market Access on Households in Rural Liberia and Malawi” (with Shilpa Aggarwal, Jenny Aker, Dahyeon Jeong, Naresh Kumar, Jonathan Robinson, and Alan Spearot)
    Abstract We are evaluating the impact of two cross-cut interventions: (1) a cash transfer program implemented by the NGO GiveDirectly, and (2) a market access intervention which reduces travel costs for farmers to access agricultural inputs like fertilizer and improved seeds. The study takes place in 600 villages in Liberia and Malawi. In each country, 100 villages will receive cash transfers only, 100 will serve as control, 50 will receive both cash transfers and market access, and 50 will receive market access only. We conduct two separate analyses from this experiment. First, we evaluate the direct effect of cash transfers (controlling for market access). In particular, we conduct high-frequency phone surveys to measure the dynamic impacts of transfers, with a particular focus on food consumption and related outcomes. Second, we evaluate the effect of market access and cash, focusing primarily on agricultural technology adoption.

    [AEA RCT Registry]