Subjective expectations in the context of HIV/AIDS in Malawi

Adeline Delavande, Hans Peter Kohler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper we present a newly developed interactive elicitation methodology for collecting probalistic in 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 respondents' answers about their subjective expectations take into account basic properties of probabilities, and vary meaningfully with observable characteristics and past experience. From a substantive point of view, the elicited expectation's indicate that individuals are generally aware of differential risks. For example, individuals with lower incomes and less land rightly feel at greater risk of financial distress than people with higher socioeconomic status (SES), and people who are divorced or widowed rightly feel at greater risk of being infected with HIV than currently married individuals. Meanwhile many expectations - including the probability of being currently infected with HIV - are well-calibrated compared to actual probabilities, but mortality expectations are substantially overestimated compared to life table estimates. This overestimation maylead 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)817-867
Number of pages51
JournalDemographic Research
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2009


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