Africa's Lockdown Dilemma: High Poverty and Low Trust
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As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, sub-Saharan African countries faced the dilemma of how to minimize viral transmission without adversely affecting the poor. This study proposes an index of lockdown readiness, taking into account housing conditions and income security, and analyses how this predicts the pandemic responses of governments. Drawing on Afrobarometer data, we document that less than two in 10 urban households were fully ready for a lockdown and that neither institutional nor community trust levels offset this challenge. We find that the prior degree of lockdown readiness was predictive of the stringency of restrictions adopted but not of social unrest.