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Risk Information, Risk Salience, and Teenagers Sexual Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Cameroon


  • Pascaline Dupas
  • Élise Huillery

    (LEDa - Laboratoire d'Economie de Dauphine - Université Paris Dauphine-PSL - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres)

  • Juliette Seban

    (Sciences Po - Sciences Po - Sciences Po, LIEPP - Laboratoire interdisciplinaire d'évaluation des politiques publiques [Sciences Po] - Sciences Po - Sciences Po)


Why do teenagers take risks and what can be done about it? Results from a randomized experiment conducted with teenage schoolgirls in Cameroon suggest that risky sexual behavior responds to both risk mitigation information and risk salience. We find that sexual education sessions delivered to students either by specialized consultants over an hour, or through regular school staff over multiple weeks, led to improved health knowledge and decreased teen pregnancy rates in the following 9–12 months. A one- time, one-hour group-administered questionnaire on HIV and sexual behavior had an equally large impact on teen pregnancy without improving knowledge − it instead made the risks more salient and changed subjective beliefs. We find no effects among urban schoolgirls, who are more exposed to information and experience much lower rates of teenage pregnancy under the status quo.

Suggested Citation

  • Pascaline Dupas & Élise Huillery & Juliette Seban, 2018. "Risk Information, Risk Salience, and Teenagers Sexual Behavior: Experimental Evidence from Cameroon," Post-Print hal-01645677, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:hal-01645677
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2017.10.007
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

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    Cited by:

    1. Julia Cage & Valeria Rueda, 2017. "Sex and the Mission: The Conflicting Effects of Early Christian Investments on the HIV Epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa," Sciences Po publications 12192, Sciences Po.

    More about this item


    HIV; Teen pregnancy; Risk perceptions; Experiment;


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