The Value of Communication During a Pandemic

50 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2021 Last revised: 16 Jan 2022

See all articles by Francis Annan

Francis Annan

Georgia State University

Belinda Archibong

Columbia University - Barnard College

Date Written: January 25, 2021


Partnering with a major telecommunications company, we field communication interventions that provide mobile calling credits to a nationally representative set of low-income adults in Ghana during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals’ inability to make unexpected calls, the need to borrow SOS airtime unexpectedly, and to seek digital loans decreased remarkably relative to a control group. As a result, the programs led to a significant decrease in mental distress (-9.8%) and the likelihood of severe mental distress by -2.7 percentage points (quarter the mean prevalence), with null impact on consumption expenditure. Poverty, informality, and lockdown effects are likely operative channels of impacts.

Keywords: Communication, ICT-Mobile Credit, COVID-19 Economics, Well-being, Mental Health, Pandemics

JEL Classification: I15, I38, L63, O12

Suggested Citation

Annan, Francis and Archibong, Belinda, The Value of Communication During a Pandemic (January 25, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Francis Annan (Contact Author)

Georgia State University ( email )

35 Broad St NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
United States

Belinda Archibong

Columbia University - Barnard College ( email )

3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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