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

  • Jakobsson, Niklas

    ()

    (Norwegian Social Research (NOVA))

  • Kotsadam, Andreas

    ()

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

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.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/22825
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Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 458.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: 07 Jul 2010
Date of revision: 07 Jun 2013
Publication status: Published as Jakobsson, Niklas and Andreas Kotsadam, 'The Law and Economics of International Sex Slavery: Prostitution Laws and Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation' in European Journal of Law and Economics, 2013, pages 87-107.
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0458
Note: Published in European Journal of Law and Economics (2013), Vol. 35, No. 1
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/

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  1. Richard B. Freeman, 2006. "People Flows in Globalization," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 20(2), pages 145-170, Spring.
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  14. Jeffrey A. Miron, 2003. "The Effect of Drug Prohibition on Drug Prices: Evidence from the Markets for Cocaine and Heroin," NBER Working Papers 9689, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  16. 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.
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