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

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  • Asadul Islam
  • Russell Smyth

Abstract

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 either attractive sex workers having more bargaining/negotiating power or attractiveness and risky sex being complements for males in the presence of attractive women. The results are robust to a number of empirical specifications including controls for sex workers’ disposition, client characteristics and a number of fixed effects to control for other attributes of sex workers and their clients.

Suggested Citation

  • Asadul Islam & Russell Smyth, 2010. "The Economic Returns to Good Looks and Risky Sex in the Bangladesh Commercial Sex Market," Monash Economics Working Papers 41-10, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2010-41
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Masahiro Shoji & Kenmei Tsubota, 2018. "Sexual Exploitation of Trafficked Children: Evidence from Bangladesh," Working Papers 175, JICA Research Institute.
    2. Islam, Asad & Smyth, Russell & Tan, HongQi Alexis & Wang, Liang C., 2019. "Survey measures versus incentivized measures of risk preferences: Evidence from sex workers' risky sexual transactions," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 238(C), pages 1-1.
    3. Mavisakalyan, Astghik, 2018. "Do employers reward physical attractiveness in transition countries?," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 38-52.
    4. Cheng, Zhiming & Smyth, Russell, 2015. "Sex and happiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 26-32.
    5. Dilmaghani, Maryam, 2020. "Beauty perks: Physical appearance, earnings, and fringe benefits," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 38(C).
    6. Hiroyuki Yamada & Yuki Kanayama & Kanako Yoshikawa & Kyaw Wai Aung, 2020. "Risk attitude, risky behavior, and price determination in the sex market: A case study of Yangon, Myanmar," Keio-IES Discussion Paper Series 2020-013, Institute for Economics Studies, Keio University.
    7. Astghik Mavisakalyan, 2016. "Looks matter: Attractiveness and employment in the former soviet union," Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Working Paper series WP1604, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), Curtin Business School.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials

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