Modeling the impact of AIDS on the perceived value of education using survey data
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This paper constructs and applies a simple model of how AIDS-related poor health might affect the perceived value of education, as part of a broader project on the effects of AIDS on educational decision-making in South Africa. The model itself is straightforward, but the application is fraught with problems because of the paucity of good data on key variables. The application requires using a variety of proxy variables. The perceived value of education is disaggregated into instrumental and societal dimensions. Controlling for demographic variables, a strong belief in future opportunities and traditional gender beliefs have a significant impact on the perceived instrumental value of education. Furthermore, household monthly income, belief in future opportunities and traditional gender beliefs have a significant impact on the perceived societal value of education. People's low life expectancy for children correlates significantly and negatively with this societal value as well, but it is important to keep in mind that South Africans subjective life expectancy for both themselves and their children is, in fact, very high. Contrary to hypotheses, this life expectancy is also not influenced by poor health, especially not in the
poorest and most heavily HIV-affected, African section of the population. It is possible that better data would allow the design of better measures of health, life expectancy and values attached to education, so further research is required before the model can be tested conclusively.