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Human Trafficking and Regulating Prostitution

Author

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  • Samuel Lee
  • Petra Persson

Abstract

We study sex trafficking in a marriage market model of prostitution. When traffickers can coerce women to sell sex, trafficked prostitutes constitute a non-zero share of supply in any unregulated market for sex. We ask if regulation can eradicate trafficking and restore the equilibrium that would arise in an unregulated market without traffickers. While all existing approaches – criminalization of prostitutes (“the traditional model”), licensed prostitution (“the Dutch model”), and criminalization of johns (“the Swedish model”) – fail to accomplish this goal, we show that there exists an alternative regulatory model that does. Political support for regulation hinges on the level of gender income inequality.
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Suggested Citation

  • Samuel Lee & Petra Persson, 2012. "Human Trafficking and Regulating Prostitution," Working Papers 12-07, New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ste:nystbu:12-07
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    File URL: http://web-docs.stern.nyu.edu/old_web/economics/docs/workingpapers/2012/NEWLeePersson_HumanTraffickingandRegulatingProstitution.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Raj Arunachalam & Manisha Shah, 2008. "Prostitutes and Brides?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 516-522, May.
    2. Samuel Cameron & Alan Collins, 2003. "Estimates of a Model of Male Participation in the Market for Female Heterosexual Prostitution Services," European Journal of Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 271-288, November.
    3. Raj Arunachalam & Manisha Shah, 2013. "Compensated for Life: Sex Work and Disease Risk," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 48(2), pages 345-369.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Randall Akee & Arnab K. Basu & Arjun Bedi & Nancy H. Chau, 2014. "Transnational Trafficking, Law Enforcement, and Victim Protection: A Middleman Trafficker's Perspective," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 57(2), pages 349-386.
    7. Kotsadam, Andreas & Jakobsson, Niklas, 2011. "Do laws affect attitudes? An assessment of the Norwegian prostitution law using longitudinal data," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 103-115, June.
    8. 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.
    9. Jonathan Robinson & Ethan Yeh, 2012. "Risk-Coping through Sexual Networks: Evidence from Client Transfers in Kenya," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 47(1), pages 107-145.
    10. Rao, Vijayendra & Gupta, Indrani & Lokshin, Michael & Jana, Smarajit, 2003. "Sex workers and the cost of safe sex: the compensating differential for condom use among Calcutta prostitutes," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 585-603, August.
    11. Lena Edlund & Evelyn Korn, 2002. "A Theory of Prostitution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 181-214, February.
    12. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Michael Grossman, 2006. "The Market for Illegal Goods: The Case of Drugs," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 38-60, February.
    13. Paul J. Gertler & Manisha Shah, 2011. "Sex Work and Infection: What's Law Enforcement Got to Do with It?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(4), pages 811-840.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:aea:aejpol:v:9:y:2017:i:4:p:28-63 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:wsi:nmncxx:v:13:y:2017:i:03:n:s1793005717400142 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Paul Bisschop & Stephen Kastoryano & Bas van der Klaauw, 2017. "Street Prostitution Zones and Crime," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 28-63, November.
    4. Philippe Adair & Oksana Nezhyvenko, 2016. "Sex Work Vs. Sexual Exploitation: Assessing Guesstimates For Prostitution In The European Union," Post-Print hal-01672874, HAL.
    5. Brodeur, Abel & Lekfuangfu, Warn N. & Zylberberg, Yanos, 2017. "War, migration and the origins of the Thai sex industry," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 86581, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    6. Jakobsson, Niklas & Kotsadam, Andreas, 2015. "The Economics of Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation," Memorandum 07/2015, Oslo University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D10 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - General
    • J16 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J47 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Coercive Labor Markets
    • J49 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Other
    • K14 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Criminal Law
    • K23 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Regulated Industries and Administrative Law

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