HIV Status and Labor Market Participation in South Africa

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

NBER Working Paper No. 16901
Issued in March 2011
NBER Program(s):   HE   LS

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16901

Published: March 2013, Vol. 95, No. 1, Pages 98-108 Posted Online March 19, 2013. (doi:10.1162/REST_a_00237) © 2013 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology HIV Status and Labor Market Participation in South Africa James Levinsohn Yale University and NBER Zoë M. McLaren University of Michigan Olive Shisana Human Sciences Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa Khangelani Zuma HSRC, Pretoria, South Africa

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