The effect of increased primary schooling on adult women's HIV status in Malawi and Uganda

Julia Andrea Behrman Social Science & Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.06.034 The effect of increased primary schooling on adult women's HIV status in Malawi and Uganda

Results indicate that a one-year increase in primary schooling decreases the probability of an adult woman testing positive for HIV.

Using data from the 2010 Malawi Demographic Health Survey and the 2011 Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey, the study takes advantage of a natural experiment: the implementation of Universal Primary Education policies in the mid 1990s. In Malawi the probability of a woman testing positive for HIV was shown to decrease by 0.06 and in Uganda by 0.03 after one additional year of primary school.

The author, Julia Andrea Behrman, emphasises that this study is focused on the impact of primary, not secondary, school:

This is an important distinction because many students, particularly female students, do not reach secondary school due to financial or family constraints. In addition, primary school ends just at the point that many young adolescent females are about to engage in sexual activity for the first time.

 Although there was no demonstrated impact on recent (adult) sexual behaviour, increasing primary schooling did positively affect:

  • women’s literacy
  • spousal schooling attainment
  • age of marriage
  • current household wealth

Schooling has important impacts on health and other outcomes outside of the labour market that should be considered by policy makers and researchers in evaluating the returns to increasing schooling.

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