Publication Title: The World Bank Development Research Group, Human Development and Public Services Team
Abstract: Transactional sex is believed to be an important risk-coping mechanism for women in Sub-Saharan Africa and a leading contributor to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This paper uses data from a panel of women in rural Tanzania whose primary occupation is agriculture. The analysis finds that following a negative shock (such as food insecurity), unmarried women are about three times more likely to have been paid for sex. Regardless of marital status, after a shock women have more unprotected sex and are 36 percent more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection. These empirical findings support the claims that transactional sex is not confined to commercial sex workers and that frequently experienced shocks, such as food insecurity, may lead women to engage in transactional sex as a risk-coping behavior.