The Early 21st Century Copper Boom and HIV/AIDS in Zambia

Nicholas Wilson, Williams College

Copper mining is among the largest economic activities in Zambia, comprising close to 10% of GDP. Between 2003 and 2008, the price of copper increased by over 400%. In response, copper production in Zambia increased by 70% and employment in copper mining increased by nearly 200%. This paper examines the effect of this economic shock on sexual behavior and the spread of HIV/AIDS in Zambia. I use nationally representative survey data on sexual behavior before and during the copper boom in conjunction with detailed spatial data on the location of survey respondents and copper mines. The results indicate that the copper boom reduced transactional sex, multiple partnerships, alcohol use at sex, coital frequency, pregnancy rates, and marital rates in the copper mining cities. These effects were concentrated among young adults and selective in-migration to the copper mining cities appears to have contributed to the reduction in sexual activity.

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Presented in Session 114: Consequences of Economic Downturns