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The economics of sexuality: The effect of HIV/AIDS on homosexual behavior in the United States

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  • Francis, Andrew M.

Abstract

In this paper, I test a simple microeconomic theory of sexuality. I apply the theory to make predictions about the effect of AIDS on sexuality, since AIDS dramatically altered the cost of sexual activities. Using a nationally representative dataset on sexuality in the United States, I estimate the effect of AIDS on male and female homosexual behavior. To do so, I postulate that people who have a relative with AIDS, on average, have more knowledge, awareness, and fear of AIDS. Empirically, this variable is uncorrelated with a number of individual background characteristics. I present evidence that AIDS causes some men to shift from homosexual to heterosexual behavior, whereas AIDS causes some women to shift from heterosexual to homosexual behavior. Thus, sexual behavior may respond to incentives. I consider alternative hypotheses, including biological theories of sexual orientation and stigma-related survey bias, and argue that they are unlikely to explain the results.

Suggested Citation

  • Francis, Andrew M., 2008. "The economics of sexuality: The effect of HIV/AIDS on homosexual behavior in the United States," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 675-689, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:27:y:2008:i:3:p:675-689
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
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    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2001:91:6:907-914_6 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Oster, Emily, 2012. "HIV and sexual behavior change: Why not Africa?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 35-49.
    6. Darius Lakdawalla & Neeraj Sood & Dana Goldman, 2006. "HIV Breakthroughs and Risky Sexual Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 1063-1102.
    7. Avner Ahituv & V. Joseph Hotz & Tomas Philipson, 1996. "The Responsiveness of the Demand for Condoms to the Local Prevalence of AIDS," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 31(4), pages 869-897.
    8. Chesson, Harrell & Harrison, Paul & Kassler, William J, 2000. "Sex Under the Influence: The Effect of Alcohol Policy on Sexually Transmitted Disease Rates in the United States," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 43(1), pages 215-238, April.
    9. Michael Kremer, 1996. "Integrating Behavioral Choice into Epidemiological Models of AIDS," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(2), pages 549-573.
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    11. Paul Gertler & Manisha Shah & Stefano M. Bertozzi, 2005. "Risky Business: The Market for Unprotected Commercial Sex," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 518-550, June.
    12. Michael Kremer, 1996. "Integrating Behavioral Choice into Epidemiological Models of the AIDS Epidemic," NBER Working Papers 5428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. 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.
    14. Pinkerton, Steven D. & Abramson, Paul R., 1997. "Effectiveness of condoms in preventing HIV transmission," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 44(9), pages 1303-1312, May.
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    16. Gregson, Simon & Zhuwau, Tom & Anderson, Roy M. & Chandiwana, Stephen K., 1998. "Is there evidence for behaviour change in response to AIDS in rural Zimbabwe?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 321-330, February.
    17. Gerald S. Oettinger, 1999. "The Effects of Sex Education on Teen Sexual Activity and Teen Pregnancy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(3), pages 606-635, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marlène Guillon & Josselin Thuilliez, 2015. "HIV and Rational risky behaviors: a systematic review of published empirical literature (1990-2013)," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01222571, HAL.
    2. Oster, Emily, 2012. "HIV and sexual behavior change: Why not Africa?," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 35-49.
    3. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan, 2012. "AIDS, “reversal” of the demographic transition and economic development: evidence from Africa," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 25(3), pages 871-897, July.
    4. Graziella Bertocchi & Arcangelo Dimico, 2015. "The Long-Term Determinants of Female HIV Infection in Africa: The Slave Trade, Polygyny, and Sexual Behavior," Center for Economic Research (RECent) 112, University of Modena and Reggio E., Dept. of Economics "Marco Biagi".
    5. repec:hal:wpaper:halshs-01222571 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Terris-Prestholt, Fern & Windmeijer, Frank, 2016. "How to sell a condom? The impact of demand creation tools on male and female condom sales in resource limited settings," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 107-120.
    7. Francis, Andrew M. & Mialon, Hugo M., 2010. "Tolerance and HIV," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 250-267, March.
    8. Andrew M. Francis & Maria Tannuri-Pianto, 2012. "Using Brazil’s Racial Continuum to Examine the Short-Term Effects of Affirmative Action in Higher Education," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(3), pages 754-784.

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