Annual Forum Papers

Trends and transitions in labour market outcomes among adults enrolled in the Free State's public sector ARV treatment programme

  • Year: 2008
  • Organisation: University of Free State
  • Author(s): Frikkie Booysen
  • Countries and Regions: South Africa

The adverse micro- and macroeconomic impacts of the HIV and AIDS epidemic is relatively well documented. With the advent of the free provision of antiretroviral treatment (ART) in the public sector, the focus in research on the economics of HIV and AIDS has shifted toward determining how ART may ameliorate the adverse economic impacts of HIV and AIDS. This paper investigates trends and transitions in labour market outcomes using data from a cohort study of patients enrolled in the Free State province's public sector antiretroviral treatment programme during the initial phases of the ARV roll-out. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of treatment dynamics as determinants of observed labour market outcomes, including transitions into and out of the labour force and into employment. Face-to-face, semi-structured interviews were conducted with a total of 254 randomly selected adult public sector ARV clients over the period 2004-08. The dataset includes a total of 1 844 observations, with 195 clients interviewed in all six survey rounds. Following a descriptive analysis of key treatment and labour market outcomes, econometric tools for panel data are employed to investigate how treatment duration and other aspects of treatment dynamics impact on observed labour market outcomes. For comparative purposes, these observed labour market outcomes are compared to those recorded in the general South African and Free State populations during the 2004-07 Labour Force (LFS) surveys as well as those observed among a group of almost 700 ARV clients enrolled into the Free State public sector ART programme in 2007/08. Preliminary results suggest that labour force participation, unemployment and labour force absorption rates among ART patients rise rapidly following positive response to treatment and correspond to levels of labour force participation, unemployment and labour force absorption observed among the general population. As such, universal access to antiretroviral treatment promises to play a significant part in curbing the negative impacts of the HIV and AIDS epidemic on the South African economy.