WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. The economic decline caused by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in one of Africa's hardest hit sub-Saharan countries, Mozambique, may translate into even more dramatic losses as the disease takes a toll on education, according to a World Bank report by a Purdue University agricultural economist.
Keeping children in school and maintaining educational quality, however, could temper the country's long-term negative economic prospects, Channing Arndt reports in a soon-to-be published World Bank document. This is the first macroeconomic study to focus on the impact of the illness on education and the subsequent long-run economic effects.
Arndt's analysis shows that the worldwide HIV/AIDS epidemic is leading to a far-reaching human development catastrophe in Mozambique, as it is in other disease-stricken countries in the region, such as South Africa. He writes that long-term economic outcomes in Mozambique could be changed depending on how education is handled.
Experts project that in Mozambique AIDS will kill large numbers of teachers and school administrators, with potentially heavy impacts on school enrollments. This will worsen already severe constraints on providing education, Arndt said. Also, large numbers of students are likely to quit school in order to work and/or take care of sick relatives.
"You have to look at how the disease will impact the whole economy," Arndt said. "Depending on the region of Mozambique, 6 percent to 20 percent of the adult population is HIV positive."
At the low end of the estimate of adults living with HIV, this means nearly 1 million people are afflicted. This is significant in a number of ways, Arndt said.
"It means more spending on health. People won't be saving for retirement," he said. "About 2 percent of laborers will die every year. What does this mean for economic growth, for the accumulation of capital, growth of the population, education?"