Cash Grants and HIV Risk: Evidence from South Africa's Old Age Pension

Jacob Bor, Harvard School of Public Health
Till Barnighausen, Harvard School of Public Health

Recent experimental evidence has raised hopes for unconditional cash transfers as a technology for HIV prevention for young women. We assess the impact of a large unconditional cash grant - South Africa's Old Age Pension - on the incidence of pregnancy and HIV infection, exploiting the sharp change in household income occurring when an elder attains pension eligibility age. We utilize longitudinal data (2000-2011) on members of over 11,000 households in a rural area of KwaZulu-Natal, where 29% of adults are infected with HIV. We find no effect of Old Age Pensions on HIV risk among women in the household. Point estimates for pregnancy are precisely estimated: an additional elder of pension-age reduces the odds of pregnancy by no more than 5% (and increases it by no more than 8%). Our results suggest that the impact of cash grants on HIV risk may be dependent on context or program design.

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Presented in Session 31: Sexual Behavior and HIV Risk in Context