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Conflict and risky health behavior: Evidence from Mexico's drug war

Shanthi Manian ()

Journal of Development Economics, 2021, vol. 148, issue C

Abstract: Risky health behaviors contribute to a large share of disease in developing countries, yet few papers have studied the effect of conflict on these behaviors. The canonical health capital model predicts that conflict should increase risky health behaviors: as the likelihood of survival falls, incentives to invest in preventive measures also fall, increasing risk-taking. However, recent findings from various violent contexts, including the drug war in Mexico, suggest the behavioral response to conflict may reduce risk-taking. In this paper, I identify the effect of insecurity on sexual risk-taking using unique panel data on female sex workers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. I show that more intense conflict generates a large reduction in risky sex transactions. I rule out several alternate explanations, including compositional changes in sex markets and changes in drug use. The results suggest that the behavioral response to insecurity can mitigate the negative effects of conflict on health.

Keywords: Sex work; Risky health behavior; Conflict; HIV (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jdeveco.2020.102562

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:148:y:2021:i:c:s0304387820301371