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The Law and Economics of International Sex Slavery: Prostitution Laws and Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation

Author

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  • Jakobsson, Niklas

    () (Norwegian Social Research (NOVA))

  • Kotsadam, Andreas

    () (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

Abstract

International trafficking in humans for sexual exploitation is an economic activity driven by profit motives, and up to four million people are estimated to be exploited by human traffickers each year. Laws regarding commercial sex influence the profitability of trafficking and may thus affect the inflow of trafficking to a country. Using two recent sources of European cross country data we show that trafficking of persons for commercial sexual exploitation (as proxied by the data sets we are using) is least prevalent in countries where prostitution is illegal, most prevalent in countries where prostitution is legalized, and in between in those countries where prostitution is legal but procuring illegal. Case studies of two countries (Norway and Sweden) that have criminalized buying sex support the possibility of a causal link from harsher prostitution laws to reduced trafficking. Although the data do not allow us to infer robust causal inference, the results suggest that criminalizing procuring, or going further and criminalizing buying and/or selling sex, may reduce the amount of trafficking to a country.

Suggested Citation

  • Jakobsson, Niklas & Kotsadam, Andreas, 2010. "The Law and Economics of International Sex Slavery: Prostitution Laws and Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation," Working Papers in Economics 458, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 07 Jun 2013.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0458
    Note: Published in European Journal of Law and Economics (2013), Vol. 35, No. 1
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alexandra Rudolph & Friedrich Schneider, 2017. "International Human Trafficking: Measuring Clandestinity by the Structural Equation Approach," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 5(2), pages 39-58.
    2. Seo-Young Cho, 2015. "Human Trafficking, A Shadow of Migration - Evidence from Germany," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(7), pages 905-921, July.
    3. Diego Hernandez & Alexandra Rudolph, 2011. "Modern Day Slavery: What Drives Human Trafficking in Europe?," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 97, Courant Research Centre PEG, revised 23 Nov 2011.
    4. Hernandez, Diego & Rudolph, Alexandra, 2015. "Modern day slavery: What drives human trafficking in Europe?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 118-139.
    5. Seo-Young Cho, 2015. "Does Prostitution Constrain Sex Crimes? Micro-evidence from Korea," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201521, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    6. Cho, Seo-Young & Dreher, Axel & Neumayer, Eric, 2013. "Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 67-82.
    7. Philippe Adair & Oksana Nezhyvenko, 2016. "Sex Work Vs. Sexual Exploitation: Assessing Guesstimates For Prostitution In The European Union," Post-Print hal-01672874, HAL.
    8. Andreas Kotsadam & Niklas Jakobsson, 2014. "Shame on you, John! Laws, stigmatization, and the demand for sex," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 393-404, June.
    9. Seo-Young Cho, 2012. "Modeling for Determinants of Human Trafficking," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 216, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.
    10. Jakobsson, Niklas & Kotsadam, Andreas, 2015. "The Economics of Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation," Memorandum 07/2015, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    11. Sonnabend, Hendrik, 2015. "Good Intentions and Unintended Evil? Clients’ Punishment in the Market for Sex Services with Voluntary and Involuntary Providers," EconStor Preprints 110682, ZBW - German National Library of Economics.
    12. Seo-Young Cho, 2016. "Liberal coercion? Prostitution, human trafficking and policy," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 321-348, April.
    13. Seo-Young Cho, 2012. "Integrating Equality: Globalization, Women's Rights, and Human Trafficking," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 69, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    14. Seo-Young Cho, 2015. "Modeling for Determinants of Human Trafficking: An Empirical Analysis," Social Inclusion, Cogitatio Press, vol. 3(1), pages 2-21.
    15. Hernandez, Diego & Rudolph, Alexandra, 2011. "Modern Day Slavery: What Drives Human Trafficking in Europe?," Proceedings of the German Development Economics Conference, Berlin 2011 83, Verein für Socialpolitik, Research Committee Development Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    law and economics; prostitution; sexual exploitation; sex slavery; trafficking;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law

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