Journal of Population Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 113–132 | Cite as

Perception of HIV risk and the quantity and quality of children: the case of rural Malawi

  • Ruben CastroEmail author
  • Jere R. Behrman
  • Hans-Peter Kohler
Original Paper


The empirical literature on the impact of HIV on the quality (Q) and quantity (N) of children provides limited and somewhat mixed evidence. This study introduces individual HIV risk perceptions, as a predictor of mortality, into a Q–N investment model. In this model, higher maternal mortality predicts lower N, while higher child mortality predicts lower Q. Thus, the two effects together make likely negative associations between HIV and both Q and N. Based on longitudinal micro-data on mothers and their children in rural Malawi, our results suggest that higher mothers’ reported HIV risk reduces both child quality, as reflected in children’s schooling and health, and child quantity, when the perceived risk is already moderate or high. The effects are sizable and, in the case of Q (schooling and health), are found for children and teenagers, both boys and girls, while in the case of N, they are found for young and mature women.


HIV Child quantity Child quality Malawi Fertility Schooling Child health 

JEL Classification

D13 I12 I20 



This research was supported by the UK Economic and Social Research Council/Hewlett Foundation Grant (PI Marcos Vera-Hernandez, Institute of Fiscal Studies, University College London; PI on a subcontract to the University of Pennsylvania, Hans-Peter Kohler) on “Effects of Reproductive Health on Poverty in Malawi” and R01-HD-053781-01A1 (PI Hans-Peter Kohler) on “Consequences of High Morbidity and Mortality in a Low-Income Country”. The authors are grateful for insightful comments and suggestions of the three anonymous referees.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruben Castro
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jere R. Behrman
    • 2
  • Hans-Peter Kohler
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Public PolicyUniversidad Diego PortalesSantiago de ChileChile
  2. 2.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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