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Bias, Not Error: Assessments of the Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS Using Evidence from Micro Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa


  • Deborah Johnston


Economists struggle to understand the macroeconomic impact of HIV/AIDS. To this end, they have constructed macro models that utilize simplified pictures of the working of the economy and then factor in channels by which HIV/AIDS will have an effect. These models have considerable influence on HIV/AIDS policy; however, they do have their critics. Criticisms in the literature have focused on the simplifications in the construction of the economy that seem most misleading. Using micro studies of sub-Saharan Africa as examples, this contribution argues that there are other important simplifications used by models that need to be reconsidered. Rather than a series of unconnected errors in the modeling process, the approaches show pervasive gender bias, which means that many of the impacts of greater female mortality and morbidity in sub-Saharan Africa are ignored. Gender-aware modeling is crucial to improving assessment of the aggregate impact of the pandemic both in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.

Suggested Citation

  • Deborah Johnston, 2008. "Bias, Not Error: Assessments of the Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS Using Evidence from Micro Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa," Feminist Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(4), pages 87-115.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:femeco:v:14:y:2008:i:4:p:87-115 DOI: 10.1080/13545700802262915

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. David Colander, 2005. "The Making of an Economist Redux," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 175-198, Winter.
    2. Colander, David, 2003. "The Aging of an Economist," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(02), pages 157-176, June.
    3. Kahn, Shulamit, 1993. "Gender Differences in Academic Career Paths of Economists," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(2), pages 52-56, May.
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    5. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance in Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074.
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    7. David Neumark & Rosella Gardecki, 1998. "Women Helping Women? Role Model and Mentoring Effects on Female Ph.D. Students in Economics," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 33(1), pages 220-246.
    8. McDowell, John M & Smith, Janet Kiholm, 1992. "The Effect of Gender-Sorting on Propensity to Coauthor: Implications for Academic Promotion," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 30(1), pages 68-82, January.
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    More about this item


    Gender economics; growth; HIV/AIDS; macroeconomics; reproduction; JEL Codes: E27; I10; O47;

    JEL classification:

    • E27 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Forecasting and Simulation: Models and Applications
    • I10 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - General
    • O47 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Empirical Studies of Economic Growth; Aggregate Productivity; Cross-Country Output Convergence


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