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

  • Francis, Andrew M.
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6V8K-4R7NPWM-8/1/6de9ee7fdb7f43624c526e5ccca8e930
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Health Economics.

    Volume (Year): 27 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 3 (May)
    Pages: 675-689

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:27:y:2008:i:3:p:675-689
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505560

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    1. Dana Goldman & Darius Lakdawalla & Neeraj Sood, 2004. "HIV Breakthroughs and Risk Sexual Behavior," NBER Working Papers 10516, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Michael Kremer, 1996. "Integrating Behavioral Choice into Epidemiological Models of the AIDS Epidemic," NBER Working Papers 5428, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Emily Oster, 2005. "Sexually Transmitted Infections, Sexual Behavior, and the HIV/AIDS Epidemic," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(2), pages 467-515, May.
    10. 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.
    11. Emily Oster, 2007. "HIV and Sexual Behavior Change: Why Not Africa?," NBER Working Papers 13049, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. 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 215-38, April.
    13. Viscusi, W Kip, 1993. "The Value of Risks to Life and Health," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 1912-46, December.
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