HIV Risk and Adolescent Behaviors in Africa

May 2013
With Christina Paxson; American Economic Review Vol. 103; Issue 3

We investigate the relationship between education and HIV, marriage and non-marital sexual activity, with a focus on adolescent behaviors that dates from the time before the HIV crisis began. We make use of the fact that older women in our sample were adolescents during the early 1980’s, when HIV had started to spread through Africa but the cause of HIV was still unknown. Decisions regarding education, sexual behavior, and teen marriage of these women could not have been influenced by any knowledge of HIV risk. An investigation of how adolescent decisions made during this period are related to current HIV prevalence in their regions of residence provides information on the riskiness of different activities, and contributes to our understanding of the spatial patterns of HIV that have developed.