Chapter

Life (Evaluation), HIV/AIDS, and Death in Africa

Angus Deaton, Jane Fortson and Robert Tortora

in International Differences in Well-Being

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199732739
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199776887 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199732739.003.0005
Life (Evaluation), HIV/AIDS, and Death in Africa

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This chapter uses data from the Gallup World Poll and from the Demographic and Health Surveys to investigate how subjective well-being (SWB) is affected by mortality in sub-Saharan Africa, including mortality from HIV/AIDS. The Gallup data provide direct evidence on Africans’ own emotional and evaluative responses to high levels of infection and of mortality. By comparing the effect of mortality on SWB with the effect of income on SWB, monetary values can attached to mortality to illuminate the often controversial question of how to value life in Africa. Large fractions of the respondents in the World Poll report the mortality of an immediate family member in the last twelve months, with malaria typically more important than AIDS, and deaths of women in childbirth more important than deaths from AIDS in many countries. A life evaluation measure (Cantril’s ladder of life) is relatively insensitive to the deaths of immediate family, which suggests a low value of life. There are much larger effects on experiential measures, such as sadness and depression, which suggest much larger values of life. It is not clear whether either of these results is correct, yet the results here demonstrate that experiential and evaluative measures are not the same thing, and that they cannot be used interchangeably as measures of “happiness” in welfare economics.

Keywords: subjective well-being; HIV/AIDS; mortality; income; Africa

Chapter.  13301 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Psychology

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