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The Economic Returns to Good Looks and Risky Sex in the Bangladesh Commercial Sex Market

  • Islam Asadul

    ()

    (Monash University)

  • Smyth Russell

    ()

    (Monash University)

This study examines the economic returns to beauty and unprotected sex in the commercial sex market in Bangladesh. The results show that there is a beauty premium for commercial sex work, but it is within the bounds of the economic returns to beauty for women in occupations that do not involve sex work. We find that there is an earnings premium for sex workers who sell unprotected sex and that more attractive sex workers charge a higher premium for unprotected sex. This result is consistent with more attractive people being better placed to bargain with others and with male clients being more likely to overvalue the returns to immediate sexual gratification and to engage in risk taking activities in the presence of attractive sex workers. The results are robust to alternative empirical specifications.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 12 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 1-25

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:12:y:2012:i:1:n:22
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  1. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-94, December.
  2. Chul-In Lee, 2001. "Finite Sample Bias In Iv Estimation Of Intertemporal Labor Supply Models: Is The Intertemporal Substitution Elasticity Really Small?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(4), pages 638-646, November.
  3. James Andreoni & Ragan Petrie, 2005. "Beauty, Gender and Stereotypes: Evidence from Laboratory Experiments," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-22, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
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  5. Della Giusta, Marina & Di Tommaso, Maria Laura & Strøm, Steinar, 2005. "Who’s watching? The market for prostitution services," Memorandum 27/2005, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  6. Collins, A. & Cameron, S. & Thew, N., 1998. "Prostitution Services : An Exploratory Empirical Analysis," Papers 111, Portsmouth University - Department of Economics.
  7. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  8. Robinson, Jonathan & Yeh, Ethan, 2009. "Transactional sex as a response to risk in western Kenya," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4857, The World Bank.
  9. Peter G. Moffatt & Simon A. Peters, 2004. "Pricing Personal Services: An Empirical Study of Earnings in the UK Prostitution Industry," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(5), pages 675-690, November.
  10. 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.
  11. McAlvanah, Patrick, 2009. "Are people more risk-taking in the presence of the opposite sex?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 136-146, April.
  12. Anderson, T W & Kunitomo, Naoto & Sawa, Takamitsu, 1982. "Evaluation of the Distribution Function of the Limited Information Maximum Likelihood Estimator," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1009-27, July.
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