Disease risk and fertility: evidence from the HIV/AIDS pandemic
A fundamental question about human behavior is whether fertility responds to disease risk. The standard economic theory of household fertility decision-making generates ambiguous predictions, and the response has large implications for human welfare. We examine the fertility response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic using national household survey data from 14 sub-Saharan African countries. Instrumental variable (IV) estimates using distance to the origin of the pandemic suggest that HIV/AIDS has increased the total fertility rate (TFR) and the number of surviving children. These results rekindle the debate about the fertility response to disease risk, particularly the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and highlight the question of whether the HIV/AIDS pandemic has reduced GDP per capita.
KeywordsDisease Fertility HIV/AIDS Instrumental variable regression
JEL classificationI15 J13 O12
We thank Erdal Tekin and three anonymous reviewers for excellent comments. Ran Duan and Mark Jarrett provided timely research assistance. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the aforementioned individuals or agencies. All errors are our own.
This study was not funded by a research grant or other funding source.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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