The Value of Communication During a Pandemic
50 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2021 Last revised: 18 Mar 2021
Date Written: January 25, 2021
Partnering with a major telecommunications company, we field communication interventions that provide mobile calling credits to a nationally representative set of low-income adults in Ghana during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals’ inability to make unexpected calls, the need to borrow SOS airtime unexpectedly, and to seek digital loans decreased remarkably relative to a control group. As a result, the programs led to a significant decrease in mental distress (-9.8%) and the likelihood of severe mental distress by -2.7 percentage points (quarter the mean prevalence), with null impact on consumption expenditure. Poverty, informality, and lockdown effects are likely operative channels of impacts.
Keywords: Communication, ICT-Mobile Credit, COVID-19 Economics, Well-being, Mental Health, Pandemics
JEL Classification: I15, I38, L63, O12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation