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Sex Work and Infection: What’s Law Enforcement Got to Do with It?

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Author Info

  • Paul J. Gertler
  • Manisha Shah

Abstract

A number of countries are pursuing the regulation of sex work to decrease the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and to reduce the probability of a generalized human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome epidemic. We study the effects of enforcing licensing regulation laws on sex worker STI rates, using nationally representative sex worker data from Ecuador. We find that increasing enforcement in the street sector significantly decreases STIs. However, increasing enforcement in the brothel sector increases the probability of a sex worker ever being infected with any STI. Increasing enforcement in the street shifts some sex workers from the more risky street into the less risky brothels and increases street prices, reducing the overall number of street clients. As a result, overall infection rates decrease. In contrast, increasing enforcement in the brothel sector can exacerbate public health problems by inducing some unlicensed brothel sex workers into the riskier street sector.

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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/10.1086/661634
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File URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/661634
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal The Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 54 (2011)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 811 - 840

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:doi:10.1086/661634

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Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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Cited by:
  1. Rocío Albert & Fernando Gómez & Yanna Gutierrez Franco, 2007. "Regulating Prostitution: A Comparative Law and Economics Approach," Working Papers 2007-30, FEDEA.
  2. Arunachalam, Raj & Shah, Manisha, 2010. "The Prostitute's Allure: Examining Returns to Beauty, Productivity and Discrimination," IZA Discussion Papers 5064, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Cunningham, Scott & Kendall, Todd D., 2011. "Prostitution 2.0: The changing face of sex work," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 273-287, May.
  4. Lee, Samuel & Persson, Petra, 2013. "Human Trafficking and Regulating Prostitution," Working Paper Series 996, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

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