Mortality Risk Information, Survival Expectations and Sexual Behaviors

Working paper number: 
2020-39
Paper Abstract: 
Individuals in low-income settings are often overly pessimistic about their own survival, suggesting that better knowledge about survival risks might encourage investments in health. This paper provides evidence from a randomized experiment that provided mature adults aged 45+ in Malawi with information about mortality risks. Treated individuals are less likely to engage in risky sexual practices one year after the intervention, and they increase other forward-looking behaviors such as investments in agriculture. Expectations of HIV+ people living longer, which makes the pool of potential partners riskier, are a primary driver of reduced sexual risk taking in response to the intervention.