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Human Trafficking and Regulating Prostitution

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  • Samuel Lee
  • Petra Persson

Abstract

We study sex trafficking in a marriage market model of prostitution. When traffickers can coerce women to sell sex, trafficked prostitutes constitute a non-zero share of supply in any unregulated market for sex. We ask if regulation can eradicate trafficking and restore the equilibrium that would arise in an unregulated market without traffickers. While all existing approaches – criminalization of prostitutes (“the traditional model”), licensed prostitution (“the Dutch model”), and criminalization of johns (“the Swedish model”) – fail to accomplish this goal, we show that there exists an alternative regulatory model that does. Political support for regulation hinges on the level of gender income inequality.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 12-07.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:12-07

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Postal: New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics, 44 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10012-1126
Phone: (212) 998-0860
Fax: (212) 995-4218
Web page: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/economics/
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  1. Robinson, Jonathan & Yeh, Ethan, 2011. "Risk-coping through sexual networks : evidence from client transfers in Kenya," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5582, The World Bank.
  2. Raj Arunachalam & Manisha Shah, 2008. "Prostitutes and Brides?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 516-22, May.
  3. Marina Giusta & Maria Tommaso & Steinar Strøm, 2009. "Who is watching? The market for prostitution services," Journal of Population Economics, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 501-516, April.
  4. Kotsadam, Andreas & Jakobsson, Niklas, 2011. "Do laws affect attitudes? An assessment of the Norwegian prostitution law using longitudinal data," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 103-115, June.
  5. Robinson, Jonathan & Yeh, Ethan, 2008. "Transactional Sex as a Response to Risk in Western Keny," MPRA Paper 7350, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Lena Edlund & Evelyn Korn, 2002. "A Theory of Prostitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 181-214, February.
  7. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Michael Grossman, 2006. "The Market for Illegal Goods: The Case of Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 38-60, February.
  8. Paul J. Gertler & Manisha Shah, 2011. "Sex Work and Infection: What’s Law Enforcement Got to Do with It?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 811 - 840.
  9. Akee, Randall K. Q. & Bedi, Arjun S. & Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy, 2011. "Transnational Trafficking, Law Enforcement and Victim Protection: A Middleman Trafficker's Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 6226, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Rao, Vijayendra & Gupta, Indrani & Lokshin, Michael & Jana, Smarajit, 2003. "Sex workers and the cost of safe sex: the compensating differential for condom use among Calcutta prostitutes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 585-603, August.
  11. Cameron, S. & Collins, A., 2001. "Estimates of a Model of Male Participation in the Market for Female Heterosexual Prostitution Services," Papers 139, Portsmouth University - Department of Economics.
  12. Paul Gertler & Manisha Shah & Stefano M. Bertozzi, 2005. "Risky Business: The Market for Unprotected Commercial Sex," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(3), pages 518-550, June.
  13. Raj Arunachalam & Manisha Shah, 2013. "Compensated for Life: Sex Work and Disease Risk," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(2), pages 345-369.
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