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

Listed author(s):
  • Asadul Islam
  • Russell Smyth

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.

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File URL: http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/eco/research/papers/2010/4110economicislamsmyth.pdf
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Paper provided by Monash University, Department of Economics in its series Monash Economics Working Papers with number 41-10.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: May 2010
Handle: RePEc:mos:moswps:2010-41
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Department of Economics, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia

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Web page: http://www.buseco.monash.edu.au/eco/
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  1. Marina Giusta & Maria Tommaso & Steinar Strøm, 2009. "Who is watching? The market for prostitution services," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 22(2), pages 501-516, April.
  2. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
  3. Raj Arunachalam & Manisha Shah, 2008. "Prostitutes and Brides?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 516-522, May.
  4. 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 1009-1027, July.
  5. Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2008. "Beauty, gender and stereotypes: Evidence from laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, February.
  6. Trevon D. Logan & Manisha Shah, 2013. "Face Value: Information and Signaling in an Illegal Market," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 529-564, January.
  7. Jonathan Robinson & Ethan Yeh, 2011. "Transactional Sex as a Response to Risk in Western Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 35-64, January.
  8. 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.
  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. Samuel Cameron & Alan Collins & Neill Thew, 1999. "Prostitution services: an exploratory empirical analysis," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(12), pages 1523-1529.
  11. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock, 1997. "Instrumental Variables Regression with Weak Instruments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(3), pages 557-586, May.
  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. 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.
  14. Rivers, Douglas & Vuong, Quang H., 1988. "Limited information estimators and exogeneity tests for simultaneous probit models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 347-366, November.
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