Poverty and the Impact of AIDS on Older Persons: Evidence from Cambodia and Thailand
The present study provides a comparative analysis of the impact of the AIDS epidemic in Cambodia and Thailand on the parents of adults who die of AIDS and how this impact interacts with poverty. We examine the relationship between economic status and routes through which losing an adult child can impact the parents, including through caregiving during illness, paying for medical and living expenses, reduced or forgone economic activity, funeral expenses, loss of current and future support from the AIDS infected adult child, and fostering orphaned grandchildren. We also consider if economic status of parents is associated with community reaction. Finally we assess whether or not the loss of an adult child changes the overall economic situation of the parents. Overall, negative consequences appear more widespread in Cambodia. At the same time, economic status tends to show a stronger association with many of the outcomes investigated in Thailand than in Cambodia. As a result the gap between poor Thais and Cambodians generally is often modest despite the substantial difference in overall levels. The high levels of hardship reported in Cambodia and the often minimal difference by economic status may simply reflect the much more severe levels of poverty in that country compared to Thailand. While differences in data collection methodologies may account for some of the contrasting findings, the results strongly suggest that setting matters and that the role of poverty in the AIDS epidemic may be far from uniform.
Countries of focus: Cambodia, Thailand.