Revisiting the economics of transactional sex: evidence from Tanzania

Deane, Kevin and Wamoyi, Joyce (2015). Revisiting the economics of transactional sex: evidence from Tanzania. Review of African Political Economy, 42(145) pp. 437–454.



Transactional sex has been identified as one of the key structural drivers of the HIV epidemic. Mainstream economic analyses of this practice primarily conceptualise transactional sex in the language of rational choice, with the focus on behavioural decisions that women make over whether to engage in transactional interactions (or not). However, whilst providing some important insights in relation to the role of poverty and the importance of acknowledging that women are more than passive agents, these approaches fail to address the social and economic complexities of this practice that are reflected in the broader literature. Further, due to the technical framework used, there is a failure to deal with the broader socio-economic and historical underpinnings of this practice. Using evidence from fieldwork undertaken in Tanzania, the authors revisit the economics of transactional sex, and offer an alternative economic approach to understanding this practice. They explore the notion that transactional sex is an established local sexual norm, and how this norm is creatively applied and reapplied in a range of situations by different actors, including through participation in local value chains. Their analysis has a number of implications for future prevention efforts that differ from the current focus on microfinance as a means of empowering women.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions