Sex and the Mission: The Conflicting Effects of Early Christian Investments on the HIV Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa

50 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2017 Last revised: 16 Jan 2018

See all articles by Julia Cage

Julia Cage

Sciences Po Paris Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Valeria Rueda

University of Nottingham; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2018

Abstract

This article investigates the long-term historical impact of missionary activity on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. On the one hand, missionaries were among the first to invest in modern medicine in a number of countries. On the other hand, Christianity influenced sexual beliefs and behaviors. We build a new geocoded dataset locating Protestant and Catholic missions in the early 20th century, as well as their health investments. Using a number of different empirical strategies to address selection in missionary locations and into health investments, we show that missionary presence has conflicting effects on HIV today. Regions close to historical mission stations exhibit higher HIV prevalence. This negative impact is robust to multiple specifications accounting for urbanization, and we provide evidence that it is specific to STDs. Less knowledge about condom use is a likely channel. On the contrary, among regions historically close to missionary settlements, proximity to a mission with a health investment is associated with lower HIV prevalence nowadays. Safer sexual behaviors around these missions are a possible explanatory channel.

Keywords: Historical Persistence, Missions, Health Investments, HIV/AIDS, Sexual Behavior, Abstinence

JEL Classification: D72, N37, N77, O33, Z12, Z13

Suggested Citation

Cage, Julia and Rueda, Valeria, Sex and the Mission: The Conflicting Effects of Early Christian Investments on the HIV Epidemic in Sub-Saharan Africa (January 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3010125 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3010125

Julia Cage (Contact Author)

Sciences Po Paris Department of Economics ( email )

28 Rue des Saints-Pères
Paris, 75007
France

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Valeria Rueda

University of Nottingham ( email )

University Park
Nottingham, NG8 1BB
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

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