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Transactional sex as a response to risk in western Kenya

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  • Robinson, Jonathan
  • Yeh, Ethan

Abstract

Formal and informal commercial sex work is a way of life for many poor women in developing countries. Though sex workers have long been identified as crucial in affecting the spread of HIV/AIDS, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, the nature of sex-for-money transactions remains poorly understood. Using a unique panel dataset constructed from 192 self-reported sex worker diaries which include detailed information on sexual behavior, labor supply, and health shocks, the authors find that sex workers adjust their supply of risky, better compensated sex to cope with unexpected health shocks, exposing themselves to increased risk of HIV infection. In particular, women are 3.1 percent more likely to see a client, 21.2 percent more likely to have anal sex, and 19.1 percent more likely to have unprotected sex on days in which a household member falls ill. Women also increase their supply of risky sex on days after missing work due to symptoms from a sexually transmitted infection. Given that HIV prevalence has been estimated at 9.8 percent in this part of Kenya, these behavioral responses entail significant health risks for sex workers and their partners, and suggest that sex workers are unable to cope with risk through other formal or informal consumption smoothing mechanisms.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4857.

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Date of creation: 01 Mar 2009
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4857

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Keywords: Population Policies; Adolescent Health; Gender and Health; Disease Control&Prevention; Health Monitoring&Evaluation;

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References

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  1. Robinson, Jonathan & Dupas, Pascaline, 2009. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt34w0w53t, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
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  16. Pascaline Dupas, 2011. "Do Teenagers Respond to HIV Risk Information? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-34, January.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Pascaline Dupas & Sarah Green & Anthony Keats & Jonathan Robinson, 2012. "Challenges in Banking the Rural Poor: Evidence from Kenya's Western Province," NBER Working Papers 17851, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. de Walque, Damien & Dow, William H. & Gong, Erick, 2014. "Coping with risk : the effects of shocks on reproductive health and transactional sex in rural Tanzania," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6751, The World Bank.
  3. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Daily Needs, Income Targets and Labor Supply: Evidence from Kenya," NBER Working Papers 19264, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Damien de Walque & William H. Dow & Carol Medlin & Rose Nathan, 2014. "Stimulating Demand for AIDS Prevention: Lessons from the RESPECT Trial," NBER Chapters, in: African Successes: Human Capital National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Joël CARIOLLE, 2014. "Corruption in Turbulent Times: a Response to Shocks?," Working Papers, FERDI P106, FERDI.
  6. Samuel Lee & Petra Persson, 2012. "Human Trafficking and Regulating Prostitution," Working Papers, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics 12-07, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  7. Jonathan Robinson & Ethan Yeh, 2012. "Risk-Coping through Sexual Networks: Evidence from Client Transfers in Kenya," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 107-145.
  8. Dupas, Pascaline & Robinson, Jonathan, 2012. "The (hidden) costs of political instability: Evidence from Kenya's 2007 election crisis," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 99(2), pages 314-329.
  9. Joël CARIOLLE, 2014. "Corruption in Turbulent Times: a Response to Shocks?," Working Papers, FERDI P106, FERDI.
  10. Wilson, Nicholas, 2012. "Economic booms and risky sexual behavior: Evidence from Zambian copper mining cities," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 797-812.
  11. Nicholas Wilson, 2010. "Economic Growth and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: Evidence from the Early 21st Century Copper Boom," Center for Development Economics, Department of Economics, Williams College 2011-04, Department of Economics, Williams College.
  12. Robinson, Jonathan, 2008. "Limited Insurance Within the Household: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," MPRA Paper 8314, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  13. Serieux, John E. & Munthali, Spy & Sepehri, Ardeshir & White, Robert, 2012. "The Impact of the Global Economic Crisis on HIV and AIDS Programs in a High Prevalence Country: The Case of Malawi," World Development, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 501-515.
  14. Manda, Constantine, 2013. "Bang for Your Buck: STI Risk and Pregnancy Risk as Sources of the Price Premium for Unprotected Sex," MPRA Paper 52864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Nicholas Wilson, 2010. "Antiretroviral Therapy and Demand for HIV Testing: Evidence from Zambia," Department of Economics Working Papers, Department of Economics, Williams College 2010-23, Department of Economics, Williams College.

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