Spatial heterogeneity of COVID-19 impacts on urban household incomes: between- and within-city evidence from two African countries

This paper examines spatial heterogeneity in the impacts of the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic on urban household incomes in Ethiopia and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Combining new panel household surveys with spatial data, the fixed-effects regression analysis for Ethiopia finds that households in large and densely populated towns were more likely to lose their labor incomes in the early phase of the pandemic, and their recovery was slower than other households. Disadvantaged groups, such as female, low-skilled, self-employed, and poor, particularly suffered in those towns. In Kinshasa, labor income-mobility elasticities are higher among workers—particularly female and/or low-skilled workers—who live in areas that are located farther from the city core area or highly dense and precarious neighborhoods. The between- and within-city evidence from two Sub-Saharan African countries points to the spatial heterogeneity of COVID-19 impacts, implying the critical role of mobility and accessibility in urban agglomerations.