COVID-19 and Household Well-being in Developing Countries (2021-2022)


The COVID-19 crisis has triggered widespread and poorly understood economic, political and  social effects worldwide. For example, widespread lockdowns, which have been implemented as a public health measure to slow the pandemic, have had significant consequences in many other realms of life, such as households’ economic well-being, food security, schooling and mental health.

Social science research efforts are underway to better understand who is most affected and how; which effects are likely to be longer lasting; and how to speed the recovery. Significant work is being undertaken to examine the economic impacts of the pandemic. Timely, rigorous and policy-relevant research on the pandemic’s effects on social, political and governance outcomes is also of great importance.

Existing research projects across multiple country contexts, initiated prior to the pandemic and/or involving multiple rounds of data collection over time, provide a unique and timely opportunity to fulfill this need. This project will build on existing research initiatives to include a standard COVID-19 module across a diverse set of developing countries. 

Project Description

This project will contribute to a comprehensive analysis of microdata to shed light on the political and governance effects of the pandemic across the developing world. The team will incorporate a standardized COVID-19 module across multiple existing research projects that are focused on impact evaluation and will consolidate and analyze data to synthesize key findings for policymakers on the effects of the pandemic. 

DevLab researchers have developed a brief set of standard COVID-19 questions for use in approximately 13 evaluations with upcoming data collection. This “Core COVID-19 Module” covers knowledge of COVID-19, willingness to be vaccinated, opinion of governments’ response and impacts on household food security. In addition, two survey experiments are included. These standardized survey questions are relatively simple and applicable across different country contexts.

Team members will consolidate and analyze household, community and firm surveys from DevLab research projects in diverse developing-country contexts. Collaborators in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Guatemala, India, Kyrgyz Republic, Myanmar, Pakistan, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan and Vietnam are implementing the standard COVID-19 module in their ongoing data collection work as well as incorporating questions specific to each country.         

Anticipated Outputs

Policy briefs; blogs; data visualizations, academic papers; public-use data files

Student Opportunities

Ideally, this project team will include 6 graduate students and 8 undergraduate students from a range of majors and disciplines. Students with interests in public policy, economics, political science, governance or global health are encouraged to apply. 

This team will work across existing DevLab projects to incorporate a standardized COVID-19 module in their current survey data collection. Students will have the opportunity to participate in timely, rigorous, policy-relevant research related to one of the most important global events of our time. They will have the opportunity to author and publish policy pieces.

Ph.D. students will serve as overall project coordinators, convene weekly meetings and lead the student teams. Master’s students will lead the data consolidation and use project data for their own coursework or theses. Project participation will boost graduate students’ teaching experience as they guide undergraduates in analyzing, interpreting and visualizing data, and writing compellingly about their findings. It will also help them build skills in project coordination and management. 

Undergraduate students will work with the graduate students to conduct background research on a target country, country-specific and comparative descriptive analyses and data visualizations, and write policy briefs and other outputs. 

In the optional summer component, graduate students will begin coordination across the contributing COVID-19 projects as well as data consolidation and harmonization across the projects.


Summer 2021 – Spring 2022 

  • Summer 2021 (optional): Graduate students begin gathering COVID data across projects
  • Fall 2021: Begin background literature reviews of COVID content in selected countries; conduct descriptive analyses in Stata
  • Spring 2022: Produce visualizations and summary briefs on selected countries and cross-country topics 


Academic credit available for fall and spring semesters; summer funding available


Image: Recent Graduates of Cambodia’s FETP Use Their Frontline Training to Respond to COVID-19, by CDC Global, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Recent Graduates of Cambodia’s FETP Use Their Frontline Training to Respond to COVID-19.

Team Leaders

  • Erica Field, Arts & Sciences-Economics
  • Manoj Mohanan, Sanford School of Public Policy
  • Erik Wibbels, Arts & Sciences-Political Science

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • David Dow, Political Science
  • Robert Garlick, Arts & Sciences-Economics
  • Edmund Malesky, Arts & Sciences-Political Science
  • Katherine Vyborny, Arts & Sciences-Economics