Been reading a history of Georgian London. Which insists that the sex trade was vast. One of his numbers is that it was worth £20 million a year in the money of the time.
Hmm. OK, so these aren’t quite the right figures but nominal GDP for the whole country was £430 million in 1830. And 16 million people, and Georgian (ie, 50 years earlier) London was 1 million.
So these aren’t the right numbers to be using but they’re indicative. And London was obviously wealthier than many rural areas etc.
Yet, by these numbers we get to London’s GDP being some £25 million nominal. And I don’t think that any of us is going to believe that the sex trade was 80% of London’s economy really.
He reaches his numbers by arguing that each tart had four punters a week, there were 50k tarts and they charged £2 per go.
It’s that £2 I’m sure is wrong. Top end of the market maybe but back then the bulk of the market would be around where it is now. Three or four hour’s wages (£30 to £40 perhaps) of the average punter for a jump. Or, in the money of that time, a few pence.