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Criminal Prosecution and HIV-related Risky Behavior

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  • Adeline Delavande
  • Dana Goldman
  • Neeraj Sood

Abstract

We evaluate the consequences of prosecuting HIV+ people who expose others to the risk of infection. We show that the effect of aggressive prosecutions on the spread of HIV is a priori ambiguous. Aggressive prosecutions tax risky behavior and thus deter unsafe sex and limit the number of sexual partners. However, such penalties might also create unique incentives for having sex with more promiscuous partners such as prostitutes and consequently increase the spread of HIV. We test these predictions using unique nationally representative data on the sexual activity and prosecutions of HIV+ persons. We find that more aggressive prosecutions are associated with a reduction in the number of sexual partners and increased likelihood of safe sex. However, they are also associated with increased likelihood of having sex with prostitutes and not disclosing HIV+ status. Overall, our estimates imply that doubling the prosecution rate could decrease the number of new HIV infections by 12% over a ten-year period.

Suggested Citation

  • Adeline Delavande & Dana Goldman & Neeraj Sood, 2007. "Criminal Prosecution and HIV-related Risky Behavior," NBER Working Papers 12903, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12903
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philipson, Tomas, 2000. "Economic epidemiology and infectious diseases," Handbook of Health Economics,in: A. J. Culyer & J. P. Newhouse (ed.), Handbook of Health Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 33, pages 1761-1799 Elsevier.
    2. Tomas J. Philipson & Richard A. Posner, 1995. "A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Public Health Subsidies for STD Testing," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(2), pages 445-474.
    3. Philipson, Tomas & Posner, Richard A, 1994. "Public Spending on AIDS Education: An Economic Analysis," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 37(1), pages 17-38, April.
    4. 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.
    5. Peltzman, Sam, 1975. "The Effects of Automobile Safety Regulation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(4), pages 677-725, August.
    6. Morse, Edward V. & Simon, Patricia M. & Osofsky, Howard J. & Balson, Paul M. & Gaumer, H. Richard, 1991. "The male street prostitute: A vector for transmission of HIV infection into the heterosexual world," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 535-539, January.
    7. Jeffrey A. Miron & Jeffrey Zwiebel, 1995. "The Economic Case against Drug Prohibition," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 175-192, Fall.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law

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