HIV/AIDS and Cross-National Convergence in Life Expectancy



This article analyzes the effect of HIV/AIDS on the cross-national convergence in life expectancy as well as infant and child survival rates by comparing three scenarios. One is based on historical and future best-guess estimated values given the existence of the epidemic. The second scenario assumes that the effect of the epidemic is much worse than expected. The final scenario is based on hypothetical values derived from estimations where the mortality caused by the epidemic is removed. For life expectancy, convergence becomes stalled in the late 1980s (without weighting by country population size) or 1990s (with weighting). Convergence in infant and child survival rates does not become stalled, but slows down. These results are mainly attributable to the epidemic since all signs of stalled convergence or even divergence disappear in the “No AIDS scenario.” Given the existence of the epidemic, however, the reduced degree of inequality in life expectancy attained by 1985 is only expected to be achieved again by 2015 at the earliest. If the epidemic turns out much worse than expected, divergence could continue to 2050. No divergence is to be expected in infant and child survival rates in any of the scenarios.