The Optimal Penalty for Sexually Transmitting HIV

39 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2008

See all articles by Andrew Francis-Tan

Andrew Francis-Tan

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Hugo M. Mialon

Emory University - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

We develop an endogenous signaling model of sexual behavior and testing under risk of HIV infection to determine whether current criminal laws against exposure to HIV are efficient and to identify the socially optimal law. We consider a law to be socially optimal if it induces information revelation and thus minimizes unconsensual HIV transmission. We find that current HIV-specific criminal laws in the U.S., which stipulate a single penalty for knowingly exposing another individual to risk of HIV infection, are not generally socially optimal. The socially optimal law stipulates a single penalty for knowingly or unknowingly transmitting HIV, and no penalty for exposing another individual to risk of infection without transmitting the virus. The optimal expected penalty is estimated to be approximately 1-2 years of prison.

Keywords: HIV testing, safe sex, risky sex, signaling, exposure to risk, HIV transmission, knowing and unknowing transmission, punishment, social efficiency

JEL Classification: I18, K14, D8

Suggested Citation

Francis-Tan, Andrew and Mialon, Hugo M., The Optimal Penalty for Sexually Transmitting HIV. Emory Law and Economics Research Paper No. 08-29. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1091790 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1091790

Andrew Francis-Tan

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ( email )

Singapore 117591
Singapore

Hugo M. Mialon (Contact Author)

Emory University - Department of Economics ( email )

1602 Fishburne Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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