No.218 Resilience against the Pandemic: the Impact of COVID-19 on Migration and Household Welfare in Tajikistan
Tajikistan’s economy hinges heavily on remittance inflows mainly from Russia that have exceeded a quarter of annual GDP in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have adverse effects on the economy through damage to migration and remittances. We use a unique monthly household panel dataset that covers the period both before and after the outbreak to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on a variety of household welfare outcomes. We provide several brand-new findings.
First, the adverse effects of the pandemic were particularly pronounced in April and May in 2020 but gradually diminished afterward, with some indicators leveling out in autumn. Second, in contrast to expectation, the pandemic had a sharp but only transitory effect on the stock of migrants working abroad in the spring. Some expected migrants were forced to remain in their home country during the border closures, while some of the incumbent migrants expecting to return were not able to do so, and remained employed in their destination countries. Both departures and returns started to increase again from summer. Employment and remittances of the migrants quickly recovered to levels seen in previous years, after a sharp decline in April and May. Third, regression analyses reveal that both migration and remittances have helped to mitigate the negative economic outcomes at home during the “with-COVID-19” period, suggesting that they served as a form of insurance. Overall, the unfavorable effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were severe and temporary right after the outbreak, but households with migrants were more resilient against the pandemic.
Keywords: COVID-19; remittance; migration; Tajikistan; household welfare