Human Trafficking and Regulating Prostitution
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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