The Power of the Church - The Role of Roman Catholic Teaching in the Transmission of HIV
New York University (NYU); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Arthur Van Benthem
University of Pennsylvania - Business & Public Policy Department
March 7, 2012
We use the appointment of a Kenyan Roman Catholic archbishop as a natural experiment to analyze the impact of church authorities' teaching on sexual behavior. Using a triple-difference approach, we find that following the archbishop's counter-doctrinal assertion that condom use within a marriage can be acceptable to reduce HIV infections, Catholic married couples within the archdiocese who had access to condoms were 7.0 percentage points more likely to use condoms than unmarried Catholics in the diocese, non-Catholics within the diocese, or Catholics in other dioceses. These results are quantitatively large and robust to a number of econometric specifications. The evidence for whether advocating condom use leads to an increase in infidelity or a decrease in respect for women is not conclusive. Our results suggest an important role for the Catholic church in the fight against HIV. This is especially relevant in light of Pope Benedict XVI's recent reconciliatory statement about condom use.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 32
Keywords: Catholic Church, HIV, Condom Use, Kenya
JEL Classification: I12, I18, Z12
Date posted: March 14, 2012
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