Monitoring Household Coping Strategies During Complex Crises

Pulse Lab New York

Project Description

With support through Global Pulse’s “Rapid Impact and Vulnerability Assessment Fund,” United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) undertook a study to determine the household coping mechanisms during times of crisis, specifically during the global financial crisis. UNDP and UNICEF examined coping strategies by drawing on on-going surveys that documented the impact of the financial crisis. They then examined the actions – coping mechanisms- that households take to minimize the harm from shocks to their wellbeing.

For example, the study found borrowing money is one of the two most prevalent coping strategies, with 37.34 per cent of households reporting borrowing to meet various expenses. Across different income groups, differences were observed in how assets were used to tide over the crisis: the poor are more likely to sell assets while the rich are relatively more likely to pawn. These mechanisms are of extreme importance to policymakers because they can link the macro indicators of crisis, such as declines in GDP growth and increases in unemployment to longer-term negative effects such as extended periods of poverty, poorer health, and decreases in educational outcome.

Understanding the coping methods that lead to such outcomes and determining the ways in which individuals in the same households may be impacted differently can help in devising policy interventions, which could ultimately hinder negative long-term effects.

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