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HIV Status and Labor Market Participation in South Africa


  • James A. Levinsohn
  • Zoë McLaren
  • Olive Shisana
  • Khangelani Zuma


Because individuals with HIV are more likely to fall into poverty, and the poor may be at higher risk of contracting HIV, simple estimates of the effect of HIV status on economic outcomes will tend to be biased. In this paper, we use two econometric methods based on the propensity score to estimate the causal effect of HIV status on employment outcomes in South Africa. We rely on rich data on sexual behavior and knowledge of HIV from a large national household-based survey, which included HIV testing, to control for systematic differences between HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals. This paper provides the first nationally representative estimates of the impact of HIV status on labor market outcomes for southern Africa. We find that being HIV-positive is associated with a 6 to 7 percentage point increase in the likelihood of being unemployed. South Africans with less than a high school education are 10 to 11 percentage points more likely to be unemployed if they are HIV-positive. Despite high unemployment rates, being HIV-positive confers a disadvantage and reinforces existing inequalities in South Africa.

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  • James A. Levinsohn & Zoë McLaren & Olive Shisana & Khangelani Zuma, 2011. "HIV Status and Labor Market Participation in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 16901, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16901
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Chijioke O. Nwosu, 2016. "The impact of health on the employment and earnings of young South Africans," Working Papers 601, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    2. Adrienne M. Lucas & Margaret Chidothe & Nicholas L. Wilson, 2016. "Effects of Adult Health Interventions at Scale on Children's Schooling: Evidence from Antiretroviral Therapy in Zambia," NBER Working Papers 22767, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Leandro De Magalhães & Raül Santaeulàlia-Llopis, 2015. "The Consumption, Income, and Wealth of the Poorest: Cross-Sectional Facts of Rural and Urban Sub-Saharan Africa for Macroeconomists," Bristol Economics Discussion Papers 15/655, Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK.
    4. Bernhard Schmidpeter, 2015. "The Fatal Consequences of Grief," Economics working papers 2015-06, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    5. Bernhard Schmidpeter, 2015. "The Fatal Consequences of Grief," CDL Aging, Health, Labor working papers 2015-07, The Christian Doppler (CD) Laboratory Aging, Health, and the Labor Market, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.

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    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development


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