Rather Doomed than Uncertain: Risk Attitudes and Sexual Behavior Under Asymptomatic Infection

24 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020

See all articles by Konstantin Matthies

Konstantin Matthies

University of Cambridge

Flavio Toxvaerd

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics

Date Written: March 22, 2016

Abstract

We analyze the relation between an individual's risk attitude and his willingness to engage in unprotected sexual behavior, when faced with an asymptomatic infectious disease. In such a situation, the individual must not only assess the likely health status of his partner, but must also form beliefs about his own health status, as these two jointly determine the probability of infection transmission. We show that in a high risk environment, increasing an individual's risk aversion counter-intuitively increases his propensity to engage in unprotected sex. The reason for this surprising result is that as risk aversion increases, the certain payoff from getting infected through unprotected sex becomes relatively more attractive than the uncertain payoffs from protected behavior. We also extend the model to analyze the effects of asymmetric information in a population-wide setting.

Keywords: Economic epidemiology, risk aversion, sexual behavior, rational fatal- ism, HIV/AIDS

JEL Classification: I12, D81

Suggested Citation

Matthies, Konstantin and Toxvaerd, Flavio, Rather Doomed than Uncertain: Risk Attitudes and Sexual Behavior Under Asymptomatic Infection (March 22, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3523643 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3523643

Konstantin Matthies

University of Cambridge ( email )

Trinity Ln
Cambridge, CB2 1TN
United Kingdom

Flavio Toxvaerd (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics ( email )

Austin Robinson Building
Sidgwick Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 9DD
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
18
Abstract Views
239
PlumX Metrics