Risky Sexual Behaviours: Biological Markers and Self‐Reported Data

33 Pages Posted: 6 Mar 2019

See all articles by Lucia Corno

Lucia Corno

University College London

Áureo De Paula

University College London

Date Written: April 2019


High‐risk sexual behaviours are generally unobserved and difficult to identify. In this paper, we investigate the accuracy of two risky‐behaviour measures: biomarkers for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and self‐reported data. We build an epidemiological model to assess the relative performance of biomarkers versus self‐reported data. We then suggest an econometric strategy that combines both types of measures to estimate actual unobserved risky sexual behaviours. Using data from the Demographic and Health Survey in 28 countries, we calibrate the model and provide conditions under which self‐reported data are a better proxy for risky sexual behaviours than biomarkers. In countries with low STI prevalence, biomarkers have a higher probability of misclassification than self‐reported answers. We apply our econometric strategy to the data and show that the probability of actual risky behaviour is much higher than the probability of self‐reported risky behaviour and of testing positive for an STI.

Suggested Citation

Corno, Lucia and DE PAULA, ÁUREO, Risky Sexual Behaviours: Biological Markers and Self‐Reported Data (April 2019). Economica, Vol. 86, Issue 342, pp. 229-261, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3345654 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecca.12286

Lucia Corno (Contact Author)

University College London ( email )

Gower Street
London, WC1E 6BT
United Kingdom


University College London

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics