Mother’s Perception of HIV and Investments in Children's Health and Education: The Case of Rural Malawi

Ruben Castro, University of Pennsylvania
Jere Behrman, University of Pennsylvania
Hans-Peter Kohler, University of Pennsylvania

Among Sub Saharan Countries, literature emphasizes the case of children living in HIV+ households, proven to be disadvantaged on schooling levels and health indicators. Even for children in households with no HIV+ members, proximity of HIV have been linked to lower education attainment. Among other explanations, it is suggested that mothers, when more likely to die, might just invest less in their children. This article explores this idea. Starting from a human capital model, panel data on children from rural Malawi is used to study the explanatory role of mother’s reported HIV likelihood on their children outcomes on education and health. The results show a non monotonic relation: mothers’ invest more (less) when facing shorter life expectancies, if their level of consumption is high (low). This relationship is robust for the education and health of boys of 8 to 18 years old. Among girls, no significant results are obtained.

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Presented in Session 89: Parental Investments in Education: Social, Economic, and Policy Influences