In this debate, I am the Grinch. I argue that developing countries (especially those with highprevalence generalised AIDS epidemics) cannot support the welfare needs of children affected by AIDS.
There are two reasons. First, countries that attempt this task risk undermining their capacity for economic growth. Growth failure will affect their ability to sustain any assistance they may already be providing to children affected by AIDS. Second, these countries also face other development challenges. Assisting children and adults who are hungry, illiterate, ill, displaced, or otherwise destitute is no less compelling – economically or financially – than supporting children affected by AIDS.
My arguments reflect concerns about efficiency and (horizontal) equity. Neither principle excludes providing some (modest) assistance to children affected by AIDS as part of broader support to the disadvantaged. That support, however, can only be sustained if countries avoid distorting their economies by giving exaggerated attention to specific problems.
The article is organised as follows. It first examines why poor countries should focus on efficiency and equity. It then argues that no developing country should devote all the resources it can muster to children affected by AIDS (or any other single development issue). Section three examines the consequences of having the donors provide the necessary resources. Data from Zambia are used to anchor the arguments but the conclusions hold equally well throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
This article comes from the IDS Bulletin 39.5 (2008) Can a Developing Country Support the Welfare Needs of Children Affected by AIDS? Considering the Issues in Zambia