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Sex and the Mission: The Conflicting Effects of Early Christian Investments on the HIV Epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa

Julia Cagé () and Valeria Rueda ()

No 2019-02, Sciences Po publications from Sciences Po

Abstract: This article investigates the long-term historical impact of missionary activity on the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. On the one hand, missionaries were among the first to invest in modern medicine in a number of countries. On the other hand, Christianity influenced sexual beliefs and behaviors. We build a new geocoded dataset locating Protestant and Catholic missions in the early 20th century, as well as their health investments. Using a number of different empirical strategies to address selection in missionary locations and into health investments, we show that missionary presence has conflicting effects on HIV today. Regions close to historical mission stations exhibit higher HIV prevalence. This negative impact is robust to multiple specifications accounting for urbanization, and we provide evidence that it is specific to STDs. Less knowledge about condom use is a likely channel. On the contrary, among regions historically close to missionary settlements, proximity to a mission with a health investment is associated with lower HIV prevalence nowadays. Safer sexual behaviors around these missions are a possible explanatory channel.

Keywords: Historical persistence; Missions; Health investments; HIV/AIDS; Sexual behavior (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 N37 N77 O33 Z12 Z13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev, nep-hea and nep-his
Date: 2019-02
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Related works:
Working Paper: Sex and the Mission: The Conflicting Effects of Early Christian Investments on the HIV Epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: Sex and the Mission: The Conflicting Effects of Early Christian Investments on the HIV Epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Sex and the Mission: The Conflicting Effects of Early Christian Investments on the HIV Epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa (2017) Downloads
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