How Beliefs About HIV Affect Fertility, Infant and Child Mortality, and Child Schooling in Rural Malawi

Published October 2009
This project analyzes how women’s beliefs about their own HIV status affect fertility and intergenerational investments in human capital in rural Malawi. It also evaluates the scope for different policy interventions to affect fertility patterns, infant and child mortality, and child schooling.

I develop a dynamic life-cycle model of women’s decisionmaking with regard to fertility and schooling of children in an environment of uncertainty about own HIV status. The uncertainty about own health status implies uncertainty about the length of one’s own life and the probability of infant mortality. I structurally estimate the model using the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project dataset, collected in three rural regions of the country between 1998 and 2008. I use the estimated model to make quantitative predictions about the impact of a range of actual and hypothetical policies. Examples of such policies include (but are not limited to) increasing access to educational and health facilities and services, provision of antiretroviral drugs, and different cash transfer schemes.

Contact Information:
Gil Shapira,, University of Pennsylvania