This paper examines the effects of learning HIV status on economic behavior among rural Malawians. According to economic life-cycle models, if learning HIV results is informative about additional years of life, being diagnosed HIV-positive or negative should predict changes in consumption, investment and savings behavior with important micro and macro-economic implications. Using an experiment that randomly assigned incentives to learn HIV results, I find that while learning HIV results had short term effects on subjective belief of HIV infection, these differences did not persist after two years. Consistent with this, there were relatively few differences two years later in savings, income, expenditures, and employment between those who learned and did not learn their status.
We implemented a randomized field experiment in Malawi examining borrower responses to being fingerprinted when applying for loans. This intervention improved the lender’s ability to implement dynamic repayment incentives, allowing it to withhold future loans from past defaulters while rewarding good borrowers with better loan terms. As predicted by a simple model, fingerprinting led to substantially higher repayment rates for borrowers with the highest ex ante default risk, but had no effect forthe rest of the borrowers. We provide unique evidence that this improvement in repayment rates is accompanied by behaviors consistent with less adverse selection and lower moral hazard.
Inexpensive, school-based deworming treatment improves health and school attendance in the short term, improves productivity in the long term, and even benefits untreated neighbors and siblings.
Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) have recently received considerable attention as a potentially innovative and effective approach to the prevention of HIV/AIDS. We evaluate a conditional cash transfer program in rural Malawi which offered financial incentives to men and women to maintain their HIV status for approximately one year. The amounts of the reward ranged from zero to approximately 3–4 months wage. We find no effect of the offered incentives on HIV status or on reported sexual behavior. However, shortly after receiving the reward, men who received the cash transfer were 9 percentage points more likely and women were 6.7 percentage points less likely to engage in risky sex. Our analyses therefore question the “unconditional effectiveness” of CCT program for HIV prevention: CCT Programs that aim to motivate safe sexual behavior in Africa should take into account that money given in the present may have much stronger effects than rewards offered in the future, and any effect of these programs may be fairly sensitive to the specific design of the program, the local and/or cultural context, and the degree of agency an individual has with respect to sexual behaviors.
Even very small incentives can encourage people to return for their HIV test results. However, for most people, learning status did not substantially change the number of condoms they purchased.
This paper draws lessons from an original randomized experiment in Malawi. In order to understand why roads in relatively good condition in rural areas may not be used by buses, a minibus service was subsidized over a six-month period over a distance of 20 kilometers to serve five villages. Using randomly allocated prices for use of the bus, this experiment demonstrates that at very low prices, bus usage is high. Bus usage decreases rapidly with increased prices. However, based on the results on take-up and minibus provider surveys, the experiment demonstrates that at any price, low (with high usage) or high (with low usage), a bus service provider never breaks even on this road. This can contribute to explain why walking or cycling is so widespread on most rural roads in Sub-Saharan Africa. In terms of policy implications, this experiment explains that motorized services need to be subsidized; otherwise a road in good condition will most probably not lead to provision of service at an affordable price for the local population.