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How Beliefs about HIV Status Affect Risky Behaviors: Evidence from Malawi, Second Version

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  • Aureo de Paula

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Gil Shapira

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Petra E. Todd

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

This paper examines whether and to what extent changes in beliefs about own HIV status induce changes in risky sexual behavior using data from married males living in three regions of Malawi. Risky behavior is measured as the propensity to engage in extramarital affairs. The empirical analysis is based on panel surveys for years 2006 and 2008 from the Malawi Diffusion and Ideational Change Project (MDICP), which contain detailed information on beliefs about HIV status and on sexual behaviors. Many individuals change their beliefs over time, because of opportunities to get tested for HIV and informational campaigns. We estimate the effect of belief revisions on the propensity to engage in extra-marital affairs using a panel data estimator developed by Arellano and Carrasco (2003), which accommodates unobserved heterogeneity as well as belief endogeneity arising from the dependence of current beliefs on lagged behaviors. We find that downward revisions in the belief of being HIV positive lead to an increased propensity to engage in extra-marital affairs and upward revisions to a decreased propensity. The estimates are shown to be robust to underreporting of affairs. Using our estimates and a standard epidemeological model of disease transmission, we find that increasing the responsiveness of beliefs to test results would reduce the HIV transmission rate as infected individuals reduce sexual behavior and decrease the likelihood that uninfected persons have contact with an HIV-positive person.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania in its series PIER Working Paper Archive with number 10-004.

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Length: 53 pages
Date of creation: 01 Aug 2009
Date of revision: 27 Jan 2010
Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:10-004

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Keywords: AIDS; Malawi; Beliefs;

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  1. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1994. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," NBER Technical Working Papers 0151, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Nicholas Wilson, 2010. "Antiretroviral Therapy and Demand for HIV Testing: Evidence from Zambia," Department of Economics Working Papers 2010-23, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  3. Michael A. Boozer & Tomas J. Philipson, 2000. "The Impact of Public Testing for Human Immunodeficiency Virus," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 35(3), pages 419-446.
  4. Kremer, Michael, 1996. "Integrating Behavioral Choice into Epidemiological Models of AIDS," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(2), pages 549-73, May.
  5. Mechoulan Stéphane, 2004. "HIV Testing: a Trojan Horse?," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-26, August.
  6. David Canning, 2006. "The Economics of HIV/AIDS in Low-Income Countries: The Case for Prevention," PGDA Working Papers 1806, Program on the Global Demography of Aging.
  7. Philipson, Tomas J & Posner, Richard A, 1995. "A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Public Health Subsidies for STD Testing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(2), pages 445-74, May.
  8. FFF1Georges NNN1Reniers, 2003. "Divorce and Remarriage in Rural Malawi," Demographic Research Special Collections, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 1(6), pages 175-206, September.
  9. Rebecca L. Thornton, 2008. "The Demand for, and Impact of, Learning HIV Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1829-63, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Delavande, Adeline & Giné, Xavier & McKenzie, David, 2011. "Measuring subjective expectations in developing countries: A critical review and new evidence," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(2), pages 151-163, March.

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