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The preserving effect of social protection on social cohesion during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from Kenya

Strupat, Christoph (2021): The preserving effect of social protection on social cohesion during the COVID-19 pandemic: Evidence from Kenya.

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Abstract

This paper examines empirically whether social protection in the form of adapted social assistance programmes are affecting social cohesion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using unique primary data from nationally representative, in-person surveys from Kenya allows for the exploration of the effect of social protection on attributes of social cohesion (trust, cooperation and identity). The analysis employs a difference-in-differences approach that compares households with and without social assistance coverage before and after the first wave of the pandemic. The findings suggest that social assistance programmes have a preserving effect on social cohesion. Attributes of social cohesion remain stable for beneficiaries, while they decline for non-beneficiaries due to the pandemic. This result is pronounced in regions that faced larger restrictions due to government lockdown policies. Overall, the results suggest that existing national social assistance programmes and their adaptation in times of large covariate shocks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can be beneficial for social cohesion.

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