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J Popul Econ. 2015 Jan;28(1):113-132.

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

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Ruben Castro is a researcher and professor at the Institute of Public Policy of the Universidad Diego Portales (Address: Ejército 260, Santiago de Chile, Phone 569-81497655, , Jere R. Behrman is William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, and Hans-Peter Kohler is Chair, Graduate Group in Demography, Fredrick J. Warren Professor of Demography, and Professor of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania.


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; Malawi; child health; child quality; child quantity; fertility; schooling

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