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The economic drivers of human trafficking: micro-evidence from five Eastern European countries

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  • Omar Mahmoud, Toman
  • Trebesch, Christoph

Abstract

Human trafficking is a humanitarian problem of global scale, but quantitative research on the issue barely exists. This paper is a first attempt to explore the economic drivers of human trafficking and migrant exploitation using micro data. We argue that migration pressure combined with informal migration patterns and incomplete information are the key determinants of human trafficking. To test our argument, we use a unique new dataset of 5513 households from Belarus, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, and Ukraine. The main result is in line with our expectations: Migrant families in high migration areas and with larger migrant networks are much more likely to have a trafficked victim among their members. Our results also indicate that illegal migration increases trafficking risks and that awareness campaigns and a reduction of information asymmetries might be an effective strategy to reduce the crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Omar Mahmoud, Toman & Trebesch, Christoph, 2009. "The economic drivers of human trafficking: micro-evidence from five Eastern European countries," Kiel Working Papers 1480, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:ifwkwp:1480
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Seo-Young Cho, 2015. "Human Trafficking, A Shadow of Migration - Evidence from Germany," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 51(7), pages 905-921, July.
    2. Hernandez, Diego & Rudolph, Alexandra, 2015. "Modern day slavery: What drives human trafficking in Europe?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 118-139.
    3. Dinh, Ngan & Hughes, Conor & Hughes, James W. & Maurer-Fazio, Margaret, 2014. "Human Trafficking in Southeast Asia: Results from a Pilot Project in Vietnam," IZA Discussion Papers 8686, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. 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.
    5. Cho, Seo-Young & Dreher, Axel & Neumayer, Eric, 2013. "Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking?," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 67-82.
    6. Seo-Young Cho, 2011. "Integrating Equality - Globalization, Women’s Rights, Son Preference and Human Trafficking," Courant Research Centre: Poverty, Equity and Growth - Discussion Papers 73, Courant Research Centre PEG.
    7. Seo-Young Cho, 2012. "Modeling for Determinants of Human Trafficking," Ibero America Institute for Econ. Research (IAI) Discussion Papers 216, Ibero-America Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Human trafficking; migrant exploitation; illegal migration; migration networks; Eastern Europe;

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements

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