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The Demand for Medical Male Circumcision


  • Jobiba Chinkhumba
  • Susan Godlonton
  • Rebecca Thornton


This paper measures the demand for adult medical male circumcision using an experiment that randomly offered varying-priced subsidies and comprehensive information to 1,600 uncircumcised men in urban Malawi. We find low demand for male circumcision: only 3 percent are circumcised over a three month period. Despite the low overall level of take-up, both price and information are significant determinants of circumcision. Still, the main barriers to male circumcision-cultural norms and fear of pain-are not affected by prices or information. Significant demand generation efforts are needed for this HIV prevention strategy to be effective.

Suggested Citation

  • Jobiba Chinkhumba & Susan Godlonton & Rebecca Thornton, 2014. "The Demand for Medical Male Circumcision," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(2), pages 152-177, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:6:y:2014:i:2:p:152-77 Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.6.2.152

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nava Ashraf & James Berry & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "Can Higher Prices Stimulate Product Use? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Zambia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2383-2413, December.
    2. Arkes, Hal R. & Blumer, Catherine, 1985. "The psychology of sunk cost," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 124-140, February.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Male Circumcision
      by René Böheim in Econ Tidbits on 2014-05-08 12:11:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2017. "Generalization in the Tropics: Development policy, randomized controlled trials, and external validity," Ruhr Economic Papers 716, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    2. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2016. "Policy evaluation, randomized controlled trials, and external validity—A systematic review," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 51-54.
    3. Laura Derksen & Adamson Muula & Joep van Oosterhout, 2016. "Love in the Time of HIV: Testing as a Signal of Risk," Natural Field Experiments 00550, The Field Experiments Website.
    4. Teresa Molina Millan & Karen Macours, 2017. "Attrition in randomized control trials: Using tracking information to correct bias," NOVAFRICA Working Paper Series wp1702, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia, NOVAFRICA.
    5. Hsu, Yu-Chin & Huber, Martin & Lai, Tsung Chih, 2017. "Nonparametric estimation of natural direct and indirect effects based on inverse probability weighting," FSES Working Papers 482, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland.
    6. Edward N. Okeke & Amalavoyal Chari & Clement A. Adepiti, 2016. "Does Price Affect the Demand for Information about New Health Technologies? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Nigeria," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64(3), pages 437-469.
    7. Pascaline Dupas & Edward Miguel, 2016. "Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries," NBER Working Papers 22235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Rebecca L. Thornton & Hans-Peter Kohler, 2017. "Making marriages last: trust is good, but credible information is better," WIDER Working Paper Series 173, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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