On the Dynamics of Beliefs and Risky Sexual Behavior

48 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2020

See all articles by Flavio Toxvaerd

Flavio Toxvaerd

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics

Date Written: January 13, 2017


This paper analyzes the dynamic interplay between individuals beliefs over transmission risks and their decisions on whether to engage in unprotected sexual behavior. The infectious disease is (possibly) asymptomatic, which makes the inference problem non-trivial. In general, the dynamics of beliefs can be non-monotone in time, even without shifts in actions. Both monogamous and concurrent relationships are considered. It is shown that if unprotected sex is voluntary, then a utilitarian social planner would prefer more unprotected sex than the level chosen in equilibrium. Furthermore, it is shown that altruism towards the partner will increase the amount of voluntary unprotected sex and thus increase the amount of infection.

Keywords: Asymptomatic infection, beliefs, infection dynamics, risky sexual behavior, learning, HIV/AIDS

JEL Classification: D83, I12

Suggested Citation

Toxvaerd, Flavio, On the Dynamics of Beliefs and Risky Sexual Behavior (January 13, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3523662 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3523662

Flavio Toxvaerd (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Faculty of Economics ( email )

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