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Transactional Sex as a Response to Risk in Western Kenya

  • Jonathan Robinson
  • Ethan Yeh

Though formal and informal sex work has long been identified as crucial for the spread of HIV/AIDS, the nature of the sex-for-money market remains poorly understood. Using a unique panel dataset constructed from 192 self-reported diaries, we find that women who engage in transactional sex substantially increase their supply of risky, better compensated sex to cope with unexpected health shocks, particularly the illness of another household member. These behavioral responses entail significant health risks for these women and their partners, and suggest that these women are unable to cope with risk through other consumption smoothing mechanisms. (JEL I12, J16, O15)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 3 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 35-64

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:3:y:2011:i:1:p:35-64
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.3.1.35
Contact details of provider: Web page: https://www.aeaweb.org/aej-applied
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  1. Robinson, Jonathan, 2008. "Limited Insurance Within the Household: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," MPRA Paper 8314, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Camerer, Colin & Babcock, Linda & Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard, 1996. "Labor Supply of New York City Cab Drivers: One Day At A time," Working Papers 960, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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  7. Rao, Vijayendra & Gupta, Indrani & Lokshin, Michael & Jana, Smarajit, 2003. "Sex workers and the cost of safe sex: the compensating differential for condom use among Calcutta prostitutes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 585-603, August.
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  9. Rosenzweig, Mark R. & Wolpin, Kenneth I., 1989. "Credit Market Constraints, Consumption Smoothing and the Accumulation of Durable Production Assets in Low-Income Countries: Investments in Bullocks in India," Bulletins 7487, University of Minnesota, Economic Development Center.
  10. Pascaline Dupas, 2009. "Do Teenagers Respond to HIV Risk Information? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 14707, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Henry S. Farber, 2005. "Is Tomorrow Another Day? The Labor Supply of New York City Cabdrivers," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 46-82, February.
  12. Emily Oster, 2005. "Sexually Transmitted Infections, Sexual Behavior, and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(2), pages 467-515.
  13. Anjini Kochar, 1999. "Smoothing Consumption by Smoothing Income: Hours-of-Work Responses to Idiosyncratic Agricultural Shocks in Rural India," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(1), pages 50-61, February.
  14. Pascaline Dupas & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Savings Constraints and Microenterprise Development: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 163-92, January.
  15. Hanan G. Jacoby & Emmanuel Skoufias, 1997. "Risk, Financial Markets, and Human Capital in a Developing Country," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(3), pages 311-335.
  16. Ernst Fehr & Lorenz Goette, 2007. "Do Workers Work More if Wages Are High? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 298-317, March.
  17. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-85, December.
  18. Jeremy Magruder, 2011. "Marital Shopping and Epidemic AIDS," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 48(4), pages 1401-1428, November.
  19. Luke, Nancy, 2006. "Exchange and Condom Use in Informal Sexual Relationships in Urban Kenya," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(2), pages 319-48, January.
  20. Lena Edlund & Evelyn Korn, 2002. "A Theory of Prostitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 181-214, February.
  21. Jonathan Morduch, 1995. "Income Smoothing and Consumption Smoothing," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1727, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  22. Oster, Emily, 2012. "HIV and sexual behavior change: Why not Africa?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 35-49.
  23. Raj Arunachalam & Manisha Shah, 2008. "Prostitutes and Brides?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 516-22, May.
  24. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "An Empirical Analysis of the Daily Labor Supply of Stadium Vendors," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 360-392, April.
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