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USAID Office of Sustainable Development

Using empirical information in the era of HIV/AIDS to inform mitigation and rural development strategies:
Selected results from African country studies1

Policy synthesis for Cooperating USAID Offices and Country Missions

David Mather, Cynthia Donovan, Thomas Jayne, Michael Weber2

Michigan State University

July 2005

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Research question:

It is widely believed that the HIV/AIDS epidemic will have substantial socioeconomic impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa, including on the agricultural sector. While the implications of the disease for research in the health fields are well established, there is a growing awareness that the spread of HIV/AIDS is influenced by economic and social conditions, and that the economic consequences of the disease can be influenced by policies and institutions that affect behavior. Agricultural economists along with other social and biological scientists have an important role to play in anticipating these consequences and identifying their implications as part of the work needed to better inform agricultural and rural development policy.

The determination of mitigation policies has lacked an empirical foundation regarding which households are most affected, how those households respond to illness and death, and the interventions that would best fit into their needs. While the few available micro-level and purposive studies have provided valuable information, such insights are limited in their ability to be extrapolated to the national level, due to small, concentrated samples, often without a representative non-affected population to provide a counterfactual or a context for interpreting the demographic and welfare characteristics of affected individuals and households.

  1. This Policy Synthesis is an executive summary of an article by the same name to be presented at the AAEA summer meetings in July of 2005, and to be published in the AJAE in December of 2005. See MSU IDWP No. 75, downloadable, at:
    This brief is a also a summary of a much larger series of studies described in detail in MSU IDWP No. 73, downloadable at: and this larger report is also summarized in MSU Policy Synthesis No 71, downloadable at:
    For access to the full set of reports and methods used by MSU and African collaborators, consult the following location on the FS III website: Effects of Prime-Age Adult Mortality on Rural Households in Africa at:

  2. Mather and Donovan are Assistant Professors, and Jayne and Weber are Professors, International Development, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Antony Chapoto, Edward Mazhangara, Elliot Mghenyi, and Kyeongwon Yoo to a working paper from which the empirical results shown here are drawn (Mather et al, 2004b). The authors also thank colleagues at Tegemeo Institute (Kenya), Bunda College and the Ministry of Agriculture (Malawi), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Forestry (Rwanda), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Mozambique) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and The Central Statistical Organization (Zambia), as well as a number of in-country researchers. Funding was provided by the above organizations and by the Food Security III Cooperative Agreement (GDG-A-00-000021-00) between Michigan State University and the United States Agency for International Development, through the Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade's Office of Agriculture and Food Security with supplemental funding from the Africa Bureau's, Office of Sustainable Development, as well as from USAID/Kenya in collaboration with Tegemeo Institute/Egerton University under the Tegemeo Agricultural Monitoring and Policy Analysis Project, and from USAID Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda and Zambia.

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