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The impact of the AIDS epidemic on the health of the elderly in Tanzania

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  • Ainsworth, Martha
  • Dayton, Julia
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    Abstract

    By the end of 1999, an estimated 24.5 million Africans were living with HIV/AIDS, accounting for more that seventy percent of all global infections. In Tanzania, an estimated 1.3 million people (of a total population of 33 million) were believed to be infected with HIV, and 140,000 had already died of AIDS. One in every 12 adults is infected. African couples have large families, partly so there will be adult children to support parents in old age. Instead, because of the AIDS epidemic, the elderly are often caring for their infected children, or orphaned grandchildren. The authors use longitudinal household data from Tanzania's Kagera region, to measure the impact of prime-age adult mortality on the level, and changes in physical well-being (as measured by body mass index, or BMI) of the elderly. They find that the elderly in non-poor households have higher BMI. Non-poor households are more likely to have an adult death, and the elderly in these households are more likely to suffer declining BMI in the months before the death of a prime-age adult. The elderly in both poor, and non-poor households experience a significant drop in BMI after an adult death, but BMI recovers over time, and there is no long-run association with BMI levels, and recent adult deaths. The elderly hit hardest are those in households nor receiving private transfers. Private transfers received by other household members raise the BMI of the elderly, especially after a recent adult death. There is no evidence that nongovernmental organizations, or public assistance to the household affects short-run changes in BMI. The elderly who have more living children are physically better off, but short-run increases in the number of teenagers in the household are associated with declines in BMI. Improving the incomes, and assets of the poor is key to improving the overall BMI of the elderly. The elderly who have more assets (such as better quality dwellings) tend to have higher BMI. Controlling for individual, and household characteristics, the elderly in communities with roads that are navigable year-round, have substantially higher BMI. Prevention of communicable diseases is key to reducing short-run fluctuations in BMI - through preventing HIV, and community immunization programs that benefit the elderly.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 2649.

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    Date of creation: 31 Jul 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:2649

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    Related research

    Keywords: Disease Control&Prevention; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Housing&Human Habitats; Public Health Promotion; Early Child and Children's Health; Gender and Social Development; Demographics; Health Monitoring&Evaluation; Housing&Human Habitats; Poverty Lines;

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    1. Lundberg, Mattias & Over, Mead & Mujinja, Phare, 2000. "Sources of financial assistance for households suffering an adult death in Kagera, Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2508, The World Bank.
    2. Rahman, Omar & Foster, Andrew & Menken, Jane, 1992. "Older widow mortality in rural Bangladesh," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 89-96, January.
    3. Axel Borsch-Supan & Daniel McFadden & Reinhold Schnabel, 1993. "Living Arrangements: Health and Wealth Effects," NBER Working Papers 4398, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Ainsworth, M. & Koda, G. & Lwihula, G. & Mujinja, P. & Over, M. & Semali, I., 1992. "Measuring the Impact of Fatal Adult Illness in Sub-Saharan Africa; An Annotated Household Questionnaire.," Papers 90, World Bank - Living Standards Measurement.
    5. Hausman, Jerry A, 1978. "Specification Tests in Econometrics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(6), pages 1251-71, November.
    6. Strauss, John, 1986. "Does Better Nutrition Raise Farm Productivity?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(2), pages 297-320, April.
    7. Frankenberg, E. & Thomas, D. & Beegle, K., 1999. "The Real Costs of Indonesia's Economic Crisis: Preliminary Findings from the Indonesia Family Life Surveys," Papers 99-04, RAND - Labor and Population Program.
    8. Axel Börsch-Supan, 1989. "Household Dissolution and the Choice of Alternative Living Arrangements among Elderly Americans," NBER Chapters, in: The Economics of Aging, pages 119-150 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Ainsworth, Martha & Semali, Innocent, 2000. "The impact of adult deaths on children's health in Northwestern Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2266, The World Bank.
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