Sex and the Classroom: Can Boosting Teenage Schooling Rates Be a Weapon Against HIV?
Sarah Baird, George Washington University
Berk Ozler, World Bank Group
Recent evidence suggests that Conditional Cash Transfer Programs (CCTs) for schooling are effective in raising school enrolment and attendance. However, there is reason to believe that such programs can also affect other outcomes, such as the sexual behavior and subsequent HIV risk of their young beneficiaries. The Zomba Cash Transfer Program (ZCTP) is a randomized ongoing CCT intervention targeting young women in Malawi that provides incentives (in the form of school fees and cash transfers) to current schoolgirls and recent dropouts to stay in or return to school. An average offer of US$10/month conditional on satisfactory school attendance led to significant declines in early marriage, teenage pregnancy, self-reported sexual activity and HIV risk among program beneficiaries after just one year of program implementation. Overall, these results suggest that CCT programs not only serve as useful tools for improving school attendance, but may also reduce sexual activity and risk of HIV.