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How do neighbors positively or negatively influence individuals living in rural Malawi to learn their HIV results? Using data of location of homes and distance to neighbors, we measure the social network effects of neighbors' learning their HIV results on individuals own learning. Using the fact that neighbors were randomly offered monetary incentives of varying amounts to learn their HIV results, we find positive effects of neighbors attending clinics on others living nearby: a 10 percentage point increase of the percentage of neighbors (approximately 2.4 individuals) learning their HIV results increases the probability of learning HIV results by 1.1 percentage points. The strongest network effects are among closest neighbors; we find no effect among religious social networks. We also find a negative interaction between direct cash incentives and peers: the effect of peers doubles among those who were not offered any individual financial incentive to learn their HIV results.
PMCID: PMC3212403. (Pub Med Central)
Country of focus: Malawi.