The Economic Lives of Young Women in the Time of Ebola

To evaluate the impact of the Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) Program on women’s socioeconomic empowerment, this experimental design followed 5,775 young females in Port Loko, Kambia, Moyamba and Pujehun districts of Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016. Findings show despite young women in Sierra Leone being one of the worst sufferers of the Ebola crisis, ELA participants showed resilience to a number of the outbreak’s shocks as findings suggest. While the younger cohort in highly-disrupted ELA villages cut the out-of-wedlock pregnancy rate by 82%, the older cohort increased the use of contraceptives by 29% from their baseline means. 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.

Authors: Bandiera, Oriana; Buehren, Niklas; Goldstein, Markus; Rasul, Imran; Smurra, Andrea 
Working paper