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Seminar Series: Behavioral Response to Information? Circumcision, Information, and HIV Prevention

Rebecca L. Thornton, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Michigan
When Nov 26, 2012
from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM
Where 0124B Cole Student Activities Building
Contact Name
Contact Phone 301-405-6403
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About the Talk

Understanding behavioral responses to changes in actual or perceived risk is important particularly in the context of public health interventions where risk reduction goals can be undermined by risk compensating behavior. We build on the existing literature by examining the behavioral responses by men to an information campaign in which they learn new information about HIV risk. In a sample of approximately 900 circumcised and 300 uncircumcised men living in rural Malawi, we randomly disseminated information about HIV risk and male circumcision and measured behavioral responses one year later. We find no evidence of risk compensation among circumcised men as measured by sexual behavior and condom purchases while uncircumcised men significantly decreased risky sexual behavior. There was no significant impact of the information on adult male circumcisions.

About the Speaker

Rebecca L. Thornton

Rebecca Thornton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Michigan. Dr. Thornton completed her PhD in Political Economy and Government with a joint degree from the Harvard University Economics Department and the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2006. She was an NIA post-doc from 2006 to 2008 at the University of Michigan Population Studies Center. Her research focuses on health and education in developing countries with a focus on gender. Dr. Thornton's research has involved a number of field-experiments in Africa, South Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, including topics such as HIV prevention, reproductive health, family planning, primary education, and health insurance. Dr. Thornton is an affiliate with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) whose main aims are to use experimental methods to translate research into policy action and alleviate poverty in the developing world. She is also a junior affiliate in BREAD (Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development).

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