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The Law and Economics of International Sex Slavery: Prostitution Laws and Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation

Niklas Jakobsson () and Andreas Kotsadam ()

No 458, Working Papers in Economics from University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics

Abstract: International trafficking in humans for sexual exploitation is an economic activity driven by profit motives, and up to four million people are estimated to be exploited by human traffickers each year. Laws regarding commercial sex influence the profitability of trafficking and may thus affect the inflow of trafficking to a country. Using two recent sources of European cross country data we show that trafficking of persons for commercial sexual exploitation (as proxied by the data sets we are using) is least prevalent in countries where prostitution is illegal, most prevalent in countries where prostitution is legalized, and in between in those countries where prostitution is legal but procuring illegal. Case studies of two countries (Norway and Sweden) that have criminalized buying sex support the possibility of a causal link from harsher prostitution laws to reduced trafficking. Although the data do not allow us to infer robust causal inference, the results suggest that criminalizing procuring, or going further and criminalizing buying and/or selling sex, may reduce the amount of trafficking to a country.

Keywords: law and economics; prostitution; sexual exploitation; sex slavery; trafficking (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: F22 K14 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe and nep-law
Date: 2010-07-07, Revised 2013-06-07
Note: Published in European Journal of Law and Economics (2013), Vol. 35, No. 1
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Published as Jakobsson, Niklas and Andreas Kotsadam, 'The Law and Economics of International Sex Slavery: Prostitution Laws and Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation' in European Journal of Law and Economics, 2013, pages 87-107.

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Journal Article: The law and economics of international sex slavery: prostitution laws and trafficking for sexual exploitation (2013) Downloads
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