Subjective expectations in the context of HIV/AIDS in Malawi test

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2009


 In this paper we present a newly-developed interactive elicitation
methodology to collect probabilistic expectations in a developing
country context with low levels of literacy and numeracy, and we
evaluate the feasibility and success of this method for a wide range of
outcomes in rural Malawi. We find that respondent's answers about
subjective expectations respect basic properties of probabilities, and
vary meaningfully with observable characteristics and past experience.
From a substantive point of view, the elicited expectations indicate
that individuals are generally aware of differential risks. For example,
individuals with less income and less land feel rightly at more risk of
financial distress than people with higher SES, or people who are
divorced or widow feel rightly at more risk of being infected with HIV
than currently married individuals. While many expectations, including
also the probability of being currently infected with HIV, are
well-calibrated compared to actual probabilities, mortality expectations are substantially over-estimated compared to lifetable estimates. This
overestimation may lead individuals to underestimate the benefits of
adopting HIV risk-reduction strategies. The skewed distribution of
expectations about condom use also suggests that a small group of
innovators are the forerunners in the adoption of condoms within
marriage for HIV prevention

Published in

Demographic Research

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 20 , p.817 -874






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