Risk information, risk salience, and adolescent sexual behavior: Experimental evidence from Cameroon

Pascaline Dupas, Elise Huillery, Juliette Seban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Why do teenagers take risks and what can be done about it? Results from a randomized experiment conducted with teenage schoolgirls in Cameroon suggest that risky sexual behavior responds to both risk mitigation information and risk salience. We find that sexual education sessions delivered to students either by specialized consultants over an hour, or through regular school staff over multiple weeks, led to improved health knowledge and decreased teen pregnancy rates in the following 9–12 months. A one- time, one-hour group-administered questionnaire on HIV and sexual behavior had an equally large impact on teen pregnancy without improving knowledge − it instead made the risks more salient and changed subjective beliefs. We find no effects among urban schoolgirls, who are more exposed to information and experience much lower rates of teenage pregnancy under the status quo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-175
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Economic Behavior and Organization
Volume145
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

Keywords

  • Experiment
  • HIV
  • Risk perceptions
  • Teen pregnancy

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