Will the AIDS Epidemic be Self-Limiting? Evidence on the Responsiveness of the Demand for Condoms to the Prevalence of AIDS

Scholarly Edition

This paper investigates the degree to which the local prevalence of AIDS increases the demand for disease-preventing methods of contraception among young adults. Using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), we find substantial evidence that the use of condoms was quite responsive to the prevalence of AIDS in one's state of residence and this responsiveness has been increasing over time. Furthermore, the prevalence-induced increase in condom demand was the result of a substitution out of all other forms of contraception, including those methods which are more effective at preventing pregnancies. Our findings lend support to the existence of a self-limiting incentive effect of epidemics--an effect that tends to be ignored in epidemiological theories of the spread of infectious diseases.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Ahituv, A; Hotz, VJ; Philipson, T