Some Economists Using Data Analysis To Examine Issues Including HIV/AIDS, New York Times Reports
Some economists "have been acting a lot like intellectual imperialists in the last decade or so" by using data analysis to examine noneconomic issues, including HIV/AIDS, the New York Times reports. Emily Oster, a Chicago-based economist, studies HIV/AIDS in Africa and has presented her research to a presidential commission on AIDS and other groups. Oster's "most provocative" finding has been that Africans living in countries with high HIV prevalence engage in sexual behaviors that are not much different than those of people in countries with lower HIV prevalence. She also found that although many well-off, healthy Africans practice safer sex in response to HIV/AIDS, many less well-off Africans have not changed their sexual practices. Oster concluded that impoverished Africans do not have an incentive to practice safer sex "because many of them could not expect to reach old age, whether or not they contracted HIV," according to the Times. Therefore, HIV prevention efforts also should focus on reducing poverty, according to Oster. According to the Times, Oster's findings seem to have contributed to the "recent push" for improved HIV prevention efforts (Leonhardt, New York Times, 1/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.