Education in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: Three essays on the case of Malawi

Monica J Grant, University of Pennsylvania


The three essays in this dissertation examine several ways in which perceptions of the HIV epidemic, individual risk, and sexual behavior are associated with educational attainment and schooling outcomes in rural Malawi. The first paper uses longitudinal data from the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project and qualitative data collected in Mchinji district to analyze the association between women's risk perceptions and knowledge of their own HIV status with their children's subsequent school participation. The multivariate analysis suggests that when mothers perceive themselves to be highly likely to become infected with HIV or when they learn their HIV status, their children are subsequently more likely to be enrolled in school. The qualitative data support the multivariate findings and suggest that parents use education as a means of insuring their children's future well-being in the event that the children are orphaned. The second paper uses qualitative data from Mchinji district to examine parents' gendered concerns and expectations regarding their children's schooling. The data reveal that parents overestimate their daughters' risk of schoolgirl pregnancy and, to a lesser extent, HIV infection. These misperceptions influence how parents react to learning about their daughters' sexual activity. Parents express concerns about their sons' academic performance and interest in school, but only mention the school performance of academically successful daughters. The overestimation of risk, coupled with lower expectations of the returns on daughters' schooling, leads parents to remove sexually active daughters from school. The third essay examines how adolescents' perceptions of their own risk of becoming infected with HIV are associated with their schooling outcomes. This paper uses data from the Malawi School Quality Survey, a longitudinal school-based survey fielded in two districts in Southern Malawi. Results indicate that adolescents who perceived that they may become infected with HIV are more likely to drop out of school or to be repeating a grade relative to advancing to the next grade by the second survey round. The analysis rules out the possibility of reverse causality and regression models with instrumental variables suggest that perceived HIV risk and schooling outcomes may not be endogenous among adolescents in Malawi.

Subject Area

Public health|Sub Saharan Africa Studies|Demography

Recommended Citation

Grant, Monica J, "Education in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: Three essays on the case of Malawi" (2009). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3381615.