News Release

PEPFAR May Improve Key Economic and Educational Outcomes, Not Just Health Outcomes

A new KFF analysis finds that the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the U.S. global HIV/AIDS response and the largest commitment by any nation to address a single disease in history, is associated with improvements in key economic and educational outcomes in countries that received PEPFAR support. Specifically, the program may have helped to grow per capita GDP and reduce the shares of girls and boys who are out of school.

PEPFAR may have a direct economic stimulus effect. The aid program was associated with a 2.1 percentage point increase in the GDP per capita growth rate over the study period, compared to what would have been expected in the absence of the program. The program was also associated with a 9.2 percentage point decline in primary school-age girls not in school. The share of boys of primary school age who were out of school also declined by 8 percentage points in PEPFAR countries.

These findings contribute to existing evidence that PEPFAR, which was not designed as an economic or educational program, has a positive impact on non-health outcomes. The findings also suggest that investments in vertical health programs—those focused on one issue or disease—can have knock-on effects that support broader economic development goals and improvements, which is vital in an era of constrained aid budgets.

For the analysis, researchers studied a data set of 157 low- and middle- income countries. The group included 90 countries that had received PEPFAR support and 67 counties that had received minimal or no PEPFAR support, between 2004 and 2018.

Read the brief, “Assessing PEPFAR’s Impact: Analysis of Economic and Educational Spillover Effects in PEPFAR Countries” and explore the following KFF-produced resources about PEPFAR’s impact:


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