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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 3 No. 1 (January 2011)

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Transactional Sex as a Response to Risk in Western Kenya

Article Citation

Robinson, Jonathan, and Ethan Yeh. 2011. "Transactional Sex as a Response to Risk in Western Kenya." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 3(1): 35-64.

DOI: 10.1257/app.3.1.35

Abstract

Though formal and informal sex work has long been identified as crucial for the spread of HIV/AIDS, the nature of the sex-for-money market remains poorly understood. Using a unique panel dataset constructed from 192 self-reported diaries, we find that women who engage in transactional sex substantially increase their supply of risky, better compensated sex to cope with unexpected health shocks, particularly the illness of another household member. These behavioral responses entail significant health risks for these women and their partners, and suggest that these women are unable to cope with risk through other consumption smoothing mechanisms. (JEL I12, J16, O15)

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Authors

Robinson, Jonathan (U CA, Santa Cruz)
Yeh, Ethan (World Bank)

JEL Classifications

I12: Health Production
J16: Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
O15: Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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