Higher HIV Rates in Sub-Saharan Women Linked to British Colonialism

The likelihood that a woman in sub-Saharan Africa has HIV today is linked to whether her country was once colonized by Britain or a continental European country, according to a June 2018 studypublished in American Economic Review.

Siwan Anderson, a professor at the Vancouver School of Economics, hypothesized that “weaker marital property rights” in common law countries “make women less able to negotiate safe sex with their husbands.” She found that HIV rates among women are significantly higher in sub-Saharan African countries that adhere to common law rather than civil law — a difference that depends on which European countries once colonized them.

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