The Long-Term Determinants of Female HIV Infection in Africa: the Slave Trade, Polygyny, and Sexual Behavior

41 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2015

See all articles by Graziella Bertocchi

Graziella Bertocchi

Università di Modena; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Arcangelo Dimico

Queen's University Belfast - Queen's Management School; Queen's University Belfast

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2015

Abstract

We study the long-term determinants of the high rates of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly among women, with a focus on family structure and sexual behavior as shaped by the demographic shock following the transatlantic slave trade. First we show that, in clusters where polygyny is more widespread, HIV infection rates are higher. By instrumenting polygyny with the demographic shock we can also establish that this link is causal. Next we turn to the channels through which polygyny is likely to affect HIV infection by focusing on sexual behavior, as captured by the intensity of sexual activity and the frequency of extramarital partnerships. We document relevant gender differences in behavior: in clusters affected by a larger demographic shock men (but not women) display a more intense sexual activity, while women (but not men) are more likely to engage in extramarital partnerships. We employ these findings to instrument sexual behavior when estimating its influence on HIV infection and we show that clusters exhibiting more frequent female extramarital partnerships are affected by significantly higher infection rates. We interpret our results as follows. The demographic shock induced by the slave trade represents a “primordial” risk factor which is still shaping contemporary family structure and sexual behavior. Polygyny is associated with unsatisfying marital relationships, particularly for women, with consequent female infidelity and an increased risk of infection, which is further multiplied for women co-habiting within polygynous households.

Keywords: HIV, polygyny, sexual behavior, slave trade

JEL Classification: I15, J12, N37, O10

Suggested Citation

Bertocchi, Graziella and Dimico, Arcangelo, The Long-Term Determinants of Female HIV Infection in Africa: the Slave Trade, Polygyny, and Sexual Behavior (June 2015). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10654, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2619229

Graziella Bertocchi (Contact Author)

Università di Modena; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)

Rome, 00187
Italy

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Arcangelo Dimico

Queen's University Belfast - Queen's Management School ( email )

Riddel Hall
185 Stranmillis Road
Belfast, BT9 5EE
United Kingdom

Queen's University Belfast ( email )

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
0
Abstract Views
548
PlumX Metrics