In April 2020, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), with support from the World Bank, launched the COVID19 National Longitudinal Phone Survey (NLPS); a monthly survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,950 households to monitor the socio-economic impact of the pandemic and other shocks. The first round (baseline) of the survey was conducted in April/May 2020, during which a federally mandated lockdown was in full effect. At the time of the tenth round of the NLPS - conducted February 6-22, 2021 - there were far fewer restrictions on activities and movement within the country. Even though COVID-19 case numbers had picked up in December 2020 and January 2021, this second wave was starting to wane by February 2021. Nevertheless, some key restrictions - including on mass gatherings - remained in place.
This brief presents the main findings from the tenth round of the Nigeria COVID-19 NLPS. The tenth round built on the fifth round of the NLPS (implemented in September 2020), by once again collecting employment information from up to six working-age individuals (15-64 years) in the household rather than just the main respondent. This enables the individual-level analysis of people's working situation to be updated. The tenth round also collected further information on people's concerns about the COVID-19 crisis and their attitudes towards vaccinations: these metrics will be vital as efforts to immunize Nigeria's population are carried out.
The share of Nigerians who were working in February 2021 was close to 70%. The data show that the share of Nigerians who were working in February 2021 was only slightly lower than the share working in September 2020, and higher than the share working in January/ February 2019. In previous years, the share of people working fell significantly between the post-planting season (around July to September) and the post-harvest season (around January to March). Yet in February 2021, 70% of working-age Nigerians (those aged 15-64 years) were working, only a little below the share (72%) observed in September 2020, and higher than the share observed in January/February 2019 (64%). The share of people working in February 2021 was similar in urban and rural areas. The fact that the share of Nigerians working in February 2021 is higher than what was observed before the pandemic may be due to "an added worker" effect where households boost their overall labor supply to cope with negative economic shocks.
The boost to labor supply was higher for women than for men. The share of women who were working was unchanged between September 2020 and February 2021, while the share of men who were working dropped slightly. Around 65% of women were working in both September 2020 and February 2021, higher than the share witnessed in January/February 2019. The share of men who were working dropped from 78% to 74% between September 2020 and February 2021, once again higher than the share who were working in January/February 2019.
Working situations have been most volatile for individuals living in poorer households. For individuals in the top consumption quintile, the share of people working has remained fairly stable, at 69% in January/February 2019, 67% in September 2020, and returning to 69% in February 2021. For individuals in the lowest consumption quintile, however, the share of people working jumped from 52% in January/February 2019 to 70% in September 2020, but then dropped back to 63% in February 2021.
The share of workers engaged in commerce was much higher in February 2021 compared to September 2020 and compared to January/February 2019. In February 2021, 37% of workers engaged in commerce, compared to 26% in September 2020 and 27% in January/February 2019. This difference between September 2020 and February 2021 is at least partially due to a seasonal decline in the share of workers engaged in agriculture: non-agricultural sectors absorb those who continue to work after the harvest is complete. The difference between January/February 2019 and February 2021 is partly down to the share of workers engaged in agriculture declining slightly, but also due to the share of workers engaged in industry almost halving.
Much of the increase in the share of workers engaged in commerce is driven by women. Between January/ February 2019 and February 2021, the share of workingmen engaged in commerce increased from 20% to 22%. Over the same period, the share of working women engaged in commerce increased from 34% to 52%. Similarly, much of the reduction in the share of workers engaged in industry appears to be concentrated among women.
The share of Nigerians deploying safe practices to combat the spread of COVID-19 recovered slightly between November 2020 and February 2021. In February 2021, 79% of respondents reported washing their hands after being in public all or most of the time, compared to 74% in November 2020 and 78% in August 2020. Around 76% of respondents reported wearing a mask when in public in February 2021, compared to 60% in November 2020 and 72% in August 2020. This rebound in the use of practices to prevent the spread of COVID -19 may be in response to the second wave of cases that hit Nigeria in December 2020 and January 2021.
Concern around becoming ill from COVID-19 is widespread, especially among poorer Nigerians. Overall, 65% of respondents reported that they were "very worried" about themselves or someone in their immediate family becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, and a further 9% were "somewhat worried". Concerns were even more prevalent among poorer respondents: 77% of those in the poorest consumption quintile reported being "very worried" about themselves or someone in their immediate family becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 compared to 54% of those in the richest consumption quintile.
The vast majority of respondents report that they would agree to be vaccinated, although the share willing to be vaccinated has declined slightly. In February 2021, 83% of respondents reported that they would agree to be vaccinated, compared to 86% in October 2020. Willingness to be vaccinated in February 2021 was higher in rural areas (85% of respondents) than in urban areas (78% of respondents), which may pose problems since - all other things equal - COVID-19 is more likely to spread in more densely populated towns and cities. For those not willing to get vaccinated, seeing their religious leaders, family/friends, doctors/nurses, and community leaders get vaccinated would increase their likelihood of taking the vaccine.
Poorer Nigerians are more willing than richer Nigerians to be vaccinated. About 98% of respondents in the poorest consumption quintile reported that they would agree to be vaccinated compared to 74% of those in the richest consumption quintile. As such, the differences between rich and poor respondents in terms of willingness to be vaccinated echo the differences between rich and poor respondents in terms of concerns about becoming ill with COVID-19. Given these findings, careful messaging around vaccines and the risks associated with COVID-19, as well as collecting data to monitor vaccine uptake, will be crucial for supporting efforts to immunize Nigeria's population.