Did Botswana's Life-Span Drop Dramatically?

I saw in 2001 edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Botswana that the average life-span was in the late 60s. But now less than a decade later it’s roughly early forties or even late thirties. Even with the AIDS epidemic could this happen?

As of 2008, among Botswana’s 15-49 age group, 24% is HIV positive.

According to my copy of the 2009 CIA World Factbook, the average age for Botswana is:

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 61.85 years
country comparison to the world: 178
male: 61.72 years
female: 61.99 years (2009 est.)

It’s a damned shame because as I understand it Botswana is otherwise doing extremely well.

Yes. It is a true success story comparable to the East Asian tigers which could have offered an example for the rest of Africa to follow.

Here is an article about HIV/AIDS in Botswana.

According to Wikipedia, Botswana has the second-highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world- one in six Botswana is HIV positive. They estimate that by 2010, 20% of children in Botswana will be orphans.

These kinds of numbers absolutely can bring life expectancy down like that. For what’s really scary, think about how the economy and education are affected- the people who should be the backbone of the workforce are sick or caring for the sick. The very people who should be building up the nation and making it strong are instead lying in their deathbeds.

The impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa is nothing short of devastating. In America, we tend to think about it as a scary possibility, but not one that really changes the fabric of society. But in Africa, it is single-handedly destroying entire countries.

The good news is that access to anti-AIDS drugs is increasing. Hopefully we will see fewer and fewer orphans, fewer and fewer sick teachers and doctors and farmers, and more and more people living long somewhat-healthy lives.

Also from the CIA WFB 2009 (which seems to backup wikipedia—I didn’t look at that article to see what their source is):

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
23.9% (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 2

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
300,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
11,000 (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28

Oh, please. The tigers achieved growth through a diversified economy, and Botswana has diamonds, cattle, and tourism.

I’ve been there. I love it. It’s got more going for it than many other countries I’ve been to, but let’s not pretend that Botswana’s economy is anywhere near as robust as the tigers.

You can check out the life expectancies of all countries, over periods of time at Gapminder Tools. It should load with one of the variables already set at life expectancy at birth. If you pick time for the other variable, and Botswana, you’ll see that life expectancy did drop drastically, but has been increasing since 2002.

(This is a REALLY fun website if you’re a big nerd, by the way. I find it pretty much endlessly entertaining.)

Incidentally, if you’re interested in HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, and why the epidemic is so bad there, I recommend the book The Invisible Cure: Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa, by Helen Epstein. I read it in my Public Health in Developing Countries class, but it’s not an academic book and is easy to read. Very interesting and informative.


I think you need to set some facts straight about Botswana. Botswana has much more than just diamonds… many other African countries have diamonds, Sierra Leon, Zimbabwe and Congo but they do not develop like Botswana. Botswana has responsible government and real punishment of corruption. For example, if you run a health clinic, and you get a donation of $50,000, you must post in a public place that you got this donation! Than every Botswanan that comes in can hold you accountable and this money that is donated does not purchase a new Toyota Land cruiser for Mr.Bureaucrat (like in most African countries).

Why does Botswana have this?? Because of the Botswanan people. I don’t like it when people from the west say thusly: “Botswana just got lucky, they found a bunch of diamonds. They are nothing special”

Botswana can offer a good model for other African countries, such as our strict anti corruption practices, but I’m afraid to say, that is a model most African leaders do not want to follow!! They are too busy building their private mansions and Swiss bank accounts! But the west just keeps sending aid to such corrupt countries, making the corrupt even richer. :mad:

Now that I am in the US, I hope to explain this to more people. Aid to Africa must be tied to anti-corruption and good government. If not, you are just putting more money into the pocket of corrupt Mr.Bureaucrat. Then he is even more powerful to oppress those with nothing.

This is a very striking graph showing what AIDS has done to life expectancy in various southern African countries: File:Life expectancy in some Southern African countries 1958 to 2003.png - Wikipedia

It looks like Botswana’s life expectancy has dropped by 20 years in the period from 1986 to 2000, but has stabilized somewhat since then.