Markets in everything: reverse prostitution edition

by on April 28, 2008 at 1:08 pm in Economics | Permalink

Thousands of people in Africa will be paid to avoid unsafe sex, under a groundbreaking World Bank-backed experiment aimed at halting the spread of Aids.

The $1.8m trial – to be launched this year – will counsel 3,000 men and women aged 15-30 in southern rural Tanzania over three years, paying them on condition that periodic laboratory test results prove they have not contracted sexually transmitted infections.

The proposed payments of $45 equate to a quarter of annual income for some participants.

Here is the full story.  It is a joint private sector, public sector initiative, in case you were wondering.  I thank Johannes for the pointer.

Finja April 28, 2008 at 1:56 pm

How much money is spent today on HIV/Aids – including research, prevention, treatment etc. (Is there actually a way to find out how much it is?)
Now add the economic losses due to HIV/Aids.

Is that really so much cheaper than paying every person in a high risk group in developing countries those 45 dollars and controlling (in some effective way I haven’t made up yet) them?

I’m asking only about the money, not about morals, discrimination and this kind of stuff. And I know that it’s not actually a good idea to stop Anti-Aids-Research for whatever reason.

David Wright April 28, 2008 at 2:56 pm

$1.8M spent on 3,000 people is $600/person. Tanzania’s GDP is $316/person. If they were to just give the Tanzanians the money, instead of giving them only 8% of it and spending the remaining 92% on first-world researchers, they would tripple the Tanzanians’ income. That kind of increase in standard of living would be certain to induce more health-conscious behavior.

Wilson April 28, 2008 at 3:13 pm

Isn’t this a bit wacky? If getting AIDS isn’t enough incentive to avoid unsafe sex, wouldn’t we be shocked if a few bucks made the difference?

Gabe April 28, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Why not just focus on the education part? I find it hard to believe that paying them $45 each to practive safe sex will serve as a greater incentive than the threat of living with a drawn-out and deadly disease. That is unless your goal is to boost wealth there in the process.

mpkomara April 28, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Where is the “markets in anything” component? Here’s where:

If I have AIDS, I’m already out of the running for this money, but I still want to capitalize on the experiment. If you don’t have AIDS, I know you will have $45 extra dollars at the end of the experiment. You will be willing to part with, say, $20 today to me and my local gang to avoid rape. The trade is beneficial– I get $20, you get $25 and avoid AIDS. However, and I’m not sure how this would go down, but if the majority of people 15-30 already have AIDS, then the ones who are AIDS-free will soon be targeted for extortion by more than just one gang. You will soon be out of $20 more dollars.

jason voorhees April 28, 2008 at 4:08 pm

Gabe – This isn’t being proposed to substitute for education, but in conjunction with it. The program has an education component, after all.

Also, one reason to think this would be effective is because in poor countries, the presently discounted cost of the disease is low if mortality is already high, or if they are poor. Oster discusses this here. A payment of four months wages today would seem to be much more effective deterrent.

Tom April 29, 2008 at 8:21 am

“Speechless.”

Your PCness getting in the way?

Hans Suter April 30, 2008 at 10:38 am

I remember, maybe wrongly, that years back a nordic country declared three-strikers mentally unfit and therefore eligible for a pension.

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