UCL Grand Challenges


Can Times of Crisis Strengthen ‘Blind Spots’ in Social Provision?

Re-evaluating the relationship between informal workers and the state in Colombia in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hands holding cash in notes.

22 February 2022


Grant: Grand Challenges Doctoral Students' Small Grants
Year awarded: 2020-21
Amount awarded: £2,469


  • Digby Ogston, Institute of Americas, Social & Historical Sciences
  • Ana Correa, Institute of Global Health, Population Health Sciences 

This cross-disciplinary project, involving the Institute of Americas and Institute of Global Health, conducted a survey in Colombia through Facebook to explore the relationship between informal workers and the state in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The survey asked participants for their views on a hypothetical social security system and its financing. The team obtained a sample of close to 900 participants, with responses regarding their tax attitudes, how they were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and their social spending preferences. The project team presented the methodology at the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics 2021 Conference and are currently in the process of analysing this data to provide a comprehensive picture of the appetite for social spending reform following the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In adition, the project team are in the process of sharing their knowledge in remote data collection with colleagues in their respective departments, which is much needed when travel restrictions are changing the way research can be conducted. The projecct has also established some contact with Colombian policymakers, who have expressed interest in the results of research paper once published. The project team hope that this may help fiscal policy decision-making in Colombia.

Outputs and Impact

  • Conference paper: Ogston, D. and Correa, A. (2021). “Re-evaluating InformalState Fiscal Relations during COVID-19: Design of an experiment to evaluate Colombian Attitudes towards Financing Social Provision”. In: Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics Annual Conference
  • Knowledge in conducting remote data collection shared with colleagues in departments at UCL
  • Policy engagement in Colombia