The Influence of Cross-Gender Conversational Networks on Responses to AIDS in Rural Malawi

Susan Watkins, University of Pennsylvania
Hans-Peter Kohler, University of Pennsylvania
Jere Behrman, University of Pennsylvania

In this paper, we examine the influence of husbands' (wives') social networks on their spouses' responses to AIDS. Social networks in are quite gendered: women talk with women, men with men. Communication between husband and wife, however, may bridge the gender gap. We use data from a longitudinal survey conducted in 1998 and 2001 in Malawi that provides information on the conversations in social networks and between spouses. The data include four sets of variables central to our analysis: 1) responses to AIDS; 2) whether both members of the couple agree or disagree on whether a spousal conversation on AIDS occurred; 3) the gender composition of respondents' networks; 4) individual characteristics. We utilize for our analyses several different methodologies, including (a) context analyses of qualitative data, (b) regression analyses of the influence of social interaction and spousal communication on AIDS risk perceptions and AIDS-related behaviors, and (c) fixed effects models.

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Presented in Session 84: Social Determinants of HIV Dynamics