The Economic Lives of Young Women in the Time of Ebola

Lessons from an Empowerment Program

This paper evaluates an intervention to raise young women's economic empowerment in Sierra Leone, where women frequently experience sexual violence and face multiple economic disadvantages. The intervention provides them with a protective space (a club) where they can find support, receive information on health and reproductive issues, and vocational training. Unexpectedly, the post-baseline period coincided with the 2014 Ebola outbreak. The analysis leverages quasi-random across-village variation in the severity of Ebola-related disruption, and random assignment of villages to the intervention to document the impact of the Ebola outbreak on the economic lives of 4,700 women tracked over the crisis, and any ameliorating role played by the intervention.

The analysis pinpoints the mechanisms through which the severity of the aggregate shock impacts the economic lives of young women and shows how interventions in times of crisis can interlink outcomes across younger and older cohorts.

About this Publication

By Oriana Bandiera, Niklas Buehren, Markus Goldstein, Imran Rasul & Andrea Smurra