“Self-selection or enabling environments: What predicts the association between short-term mobility and sexual behavior?”
Abstract: Short-term mobility is often associated with increased risk behavior. For example, mobile individuals often have higher rates of sexual risk behavior compared to non-mobile individuals, but the reasons why are not clear. Using monthly retrospective panel data from Ghana, we test whether short-term mobility is associated with differences in total and unprotected sex acts, and whether the association is due to enabling, selection, or influential reasons. In other words, do mobile individuals express higher levels of risk due to an environment that enables that risk? Alternatively, mobile individuals may be selected on some trait that predicts less aversion to risk. Men who were mobile in a given month had more sex acts compared to non-mobile men. Regardless of short-term mobility in a given month, both men and women who were mobile in future months had more sex acts compared to individuals not mobile in future months. Our findings support the hypothesis that both men and women who are mobile are positively selected on sexual risk behavior. The enabling hypothesis, that the act of being mobile enables sexual risk behavior, was only supported for men.