I dunno about controversially

More controversially, the wages of sex workers have been described as ‘high’ for a ‘low skill’ occupation and explained by the loss of position in the marriage market (Arunachalam and Shah, 2008; Edlund and Korn, 2002).

But this is not just some random paper.

“The evidence we bring indicates that the increased stigmatization of prostitution that has taken place in the UK over the period 2000-2012, during which prostitution was progressively criminalized, does not support the expectations of a significant reduction in demand as the policy intended and corresponds to a change in the type of clients that are observed through successive waves of the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL henceforth). We conclude that this provides further support for the idea that demand for sexual services might be inelastic to both the market price and the implicit price of stigma, whereby criminalization is not likely to be conducive to decreases in demand as is hoped for. Rather, it might jeopardize the working conditions and safety of existing prostitutes thus raising the welfare cost of abolitionism. 

Well, alright then, it is just some random paper. But that bold there is the part that Al Roth chose to highlight. And Al Roth did gain the Nobel for his work on market design and the like.

The Swedish approach is counterproductive that is, it’s the German, legalised, method that should be followed.

33 thoughts on “I dunno about controversially”

  1. Rather, it might jeopardize the working conditions and safety of existing prostitutes thus raising the welfare cost of abolitionism.

    Maybe don’t sell your fanny for cash then. “¯\_(ツ)_/¯“

  2. Another expert who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The wages of sex workers are not “high”. They generally earn about the the same as a similar person would in a regular job. Comes from confusing hourly rates with annual earnings. Derives from the supply side of the equation being effectively infinite.
    “We conclude that this provides further support for the idea that demand for sexual services might be inelastic to both the market price and the implicit price of stigma, ” Neatly falsified by what’s been going on here. Puta earnings are down 50% on what they were in ’19. Lack of demand due to there being a lot less money going around. Loss of tourism has taken 15% out of the input to the local economy. Sensible thing for the girls, as a whole, would be to reduce prices & spread what money there is around. The market solution. But the girls aren’t economists. No individual girl will reduce prices because she expects, against all evidence, to be the one to win the prize. So there’s a lot of dagos going without their nooky. Hardly inelastic.

  3. “whereby criminalization is not likely to be conducive to decreases in demand as is hoped for. Rather, it might jeopardize the working conditions and safety of existing prostitutes thus raising the welfare cost of abolitionism. ”

    Would wholeheartedly agree with that, though. It’s the surplus on the supply side makes exploitation of sex workers impossible. The costs attached to doing the exploitation make exploiters uncompetitive. All the so called “exploiters” the press are so fond of talking about are selling services the girls willingly pay for because they increase their earnings capability. Criminalisation would increase the need for those services. Severe enough criminalisation & you’d get to the point where “sex slavery” would be economically viable.

  4. The Swedish model has been praised with data about the reduction in street prostitution, but street prostitution has vanished almost everywhere else, too. Mobile phones, internet, see? Girls can sit at home in the warm and arrange clients rather than standing out in the freezing cold.

    It’s also the case that most policing of prostitution is for show rather than serious policing. Coppers, probably most politicians don’t actually care about prostitution. Unless you want to get into some areas about desperation or poverty, it’s a victimless crime. Girl says £100 for a shag, bloke agrees and off they go. A few middle class women with a stick up their arse care about it, so you can win their votes by passing a law. And you keep them thinking its being dealt with by occasionally sending along a camera crew with a few coppers and busting a massage parlour for the telly, like those shows about “the men from D Branch are on the front line fighting the war on drugs” even though getting weed is just hilariously easy to do.

    So the punters know that the odds of getting busted are remote, and even then, it’s something like a £500 fine.

  5. I don’t get this bit. “corresponds to a change in the type of clients that are observed” – so demands inelastic but the type of client changes? –

  6. BoM4 – Yarp.

    Nobody expects the oldest profession to go away, they generally just don’t want creepy punters lining up outside the house next door at midnight, or to find drug paraphernalia on the pavement, or for their daughters to think being hoors is a valid career choice (Good luck with that, says the internet)

    The point of officially hassling tarts and their clients, and according them the respect they’re due, is to keep this stuff away from normies, children, your Nan, and/or potentially panicky palfreys.

    People often accuse the Victorians of being hypocritical, but they were a supremely practical bunch. Hypocritical standards, unevenly upheld, are better than no standards at all.

  7. “like those shows about “the men from D Branch are on the front line fighting the war on drugs” even though getting weed is just hilariously easy to do.”
    It’d help if the police themselves weren’t such avid buyers of the stuff. And anyone thinks different has never seen police in off duty recreational mode.

  8. I’ve often thought that societal disapproval of ‘the world’s oldest profession’ is actually union activism to preserve the value of wives, i.e the laws are wrangled into place by wively coercion to defend their positions and income.
    In other words, simply defending a monopoly.
    Perhaps the Competition and Markets Authority should launch an investigation?
    🙂

  9. Tim – based and wifepilled.

    If we could survive without a wife, citizens of Rome, all of us would do without that nuisance; but since nature has so decreed that we cannot manage comfortably with them, nor live in any way without them, we must plan for our lasting preservation rather than for our temporary pleasure.

    –Imperator Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus Augustus

  10. Steve

    “Maybe don’t sell your fanny for cash then. “¯\_(ツ)_/¯“”

    Now don’t be silly, young man. The littel jewel isn’t **sold**, it’s merely rented out for a while.

    Big difference!

  11. “I’ve often thought that societal disapproval of ‘the world’s oldest profession’ is actually union activism to preserve the value of wives, i.e the laws are wrangled into place by wively coercion to defend their positions and income.
    In other words, simply defending a monopoly.”
    Depends on society. With the Hispanic culture, prossies are looked on rather favourably by the wifely classes. Accepting that if the men may stray, it’s better done at an hourly rate than permanently to a rival. So you get situations like the Peruvian mine collapse where the wives & the brothel girls were clustered at the mine head mutually supporting each other.

  12. Steve,

    “Nobody expects the oldest profession to go away, they generally just don’t want creepy punters lining up outside the house next door at midnight, or to find drug paraphernalia on the pavement, or for their daughters to think being hoors is a valid career choice (Good luck with that, says the internet)”

    I would rather live in the street with a massage parlour than a pub. We had one at the top of the hill and it was no trouble at all. No noise, no drug stuff, not even any litter.

    And that’s all being replaced with internet. Visit a girl in a flat or Premier Inn or she visits you. They even turn up in regular clothes so the neighbours don’t twig.

    “The point of officially hassling tarts and their clients, and according them the respect they’re due, is to keep this stuff away from normies, children, your Nan, and/or potentially panicky palfreys.”

    No it isn’t. It’s political. The politicians are doing something. They aren’t doing a damn thing. And they raid establishments that are discrete and minding their own business. Punters are not approaching kids to look for business. OK, they did in the era of street prostitution, if girls were walking around never the whores, but people aren’t approaching girls near flats. Why would they? They’ve already called and arranged their business with the girl in the flat. They know the address. And most of them want to be as discrete about it as possible.

    “People often accuse the Victorians of being hypocritical, but they were a supremely practical bunch. Hypocritical standards, unevenly upheld, are better than no standards at all.”

    They weren’t hypocritical at a legal level. Maybe at a personal one, but prostitution was legal.

    And prostitution is far better than the alternatives, which is men chasing young women to have affairs. Affairs wreck marriages, because the girlfriend nearly always wants to be the wife with all sorts of grave effects on family life. Whores kick him out after 30 minutes. It’s tidier.

  13. “corresponds to a change in the type of clients that are observed”
    Could this be a polite way to say that multi-culturalism and immigration has resulted in there being clients with a different attitude and approach to prostitution than there was previously
    Or has the change from street to online changed the client base as the anonymity of online booking and more discrete transactions is very different to those prepared to drive around kerb crawling

  14. Surprised you didn’t go with ‘gash for cash’ Steve.

    The dash for gash – wasn’t that a thing once, too?

  15. BniC

    “Or has the change from street to online changed the client base as the anonymity of online booking and more discrete transactions is very different to those prepared to drive around kerb crawling”

    Entirely that.

  16. Think it was Canada where the sex workers won a human rights case over prostitution laws where the criminal act was selling and the govts response was just to adopt the model where the criminal act is buying (think that’s what’s referred to as Swedish model) instead of decriminalisation and regulations. Now another human rights case going through I believe arguing it’s no better than the previous model.
    Seems like one of those cases where court should either have been explicit in what it intended (decriminalisation/regulation say) or review the govts proposed solution rather than just leaving them to do what they liked and have it all go round and round again.

  17. This does make me think of a push years ago to have any illegal immigrant who claimed she’d been imported by a wicked pimp to prostitute herself offered citizenship so she’d be willing to inform. Naturally I was adamantly opposed, as it meant that the silly white Aussie taxpayer – ie ME!!!!!!!!! – would be paying the old age pension for all the worn out whores of the world.

    I never heard anything more about it; but it’s such a stupid idea that I’ve always assumed it just passed into law.

  18. @Bloke in Callao
    Must have been a different one. Some time ago. I remember the report made point of the solidarity. I know with here, the local brothels are hardly contentious. They’re not exactly discrete. You can see the neon signs from five kilometres away

  19. “More controversially, the wages of sex workers have been described as ‘high’ for a ‘low skill’ occupation…”

    While I have no direct experience of this, I understand that, like many manual professions, the few at the top of their calling are highly skilled indeed….

  20. Interested – Gash for cash is gold, I’m stealing that

    BoM4 – Wrong. Thots are a pubic health hazard and need to be spanked.

    Also I’m pretty sure the Vagrancy Act of 1824 was used against tarts.

  21. Repeating a very old joke

    A rower marries his sweetheart. Bells ting, the happy couple leave the church to a salute of raised oars by the local Leander club.

    A mother and daughter are passing by
    < Cor, look at them oars, Mum
    < Them's not oars, our lass. Them's bridesmaids.

  22. It’s probably far from a perfect market as well. I wouldn’t know where to go to find a whore if I wanted one. Nor would I know how to find one of the right quality. I’d guess a bad experience can be really bad. That must bugger up* the pricing mechanism.

    (* possibly the wrong phrase)

  23. “Or has the change from street to online changed the client base as the anonymity of online booking and more discrete transactions is very different to those prepared to drive around kerb crawling”

    yeah but that’s not what the extract said. They were suggesting increasing illegality, caused the client type to change but also concluded demand is inelastic. In other words one type of client base was swapped out for an entirely new one but just so happens the same numbers for both types. That, i suppose is possible but would surprise me greatly. More likely as you say BNiC and Recusant, nothing particularly to do with illegality but more to do with internet and smartphones, the whole experience has got more accessible – so not only these guys but also these guys are at it too….that yeah ok i can believe – a demand curve shift. It doesn’t take away from their point – illegality won’t do what you think it’ll do- but still not quite right in the logic.

  24. “It’s probably far from a perfect market as well.”
    There’s an aspect of economics that I’ve seen discussed in game theory but never by economists. Concerns where economic actors both personally produce the goods or services & are also setting the prices. And that’s reluctance to actually engage with a market. Generally applies to one person concerns or very small enterprises. I think it’s because producers tend to personally value what they do as being higher than the market will pay. So they’re reluctant to compete. They don’t want to accept a lower price than their competitors for the same good or service. They feel they’d be giving something away.
    It’s something I’ve seen repeatedly with the self employed, small shops, bars, restaurants & definitely prostitution. Otherwise, there seems to be a minimum size of operation where price stops becoming a matter of personal feelings & starts becoming a matter of business economics. It’s entirely illogical but nevertheless exists. So you tend to have a situation where prices can only rise, not fall & if one actor increases prices the the other actors will in due course copy. Thus competition is more likely by replacement. New actors are less emotionally committed to level pricing.
    It’s a phenomenon that remarkably strong here. I don’t think the Spanish really understand market economics in the first place. It’s the only place I’ve seen people commonly respond to a fall in turnover by increasing prices to maintain income.
    Be very interested by opinions on this.

  25. In terms of price, the default model in history for all goods has been to bargain. Exceptions exist for government-mandated prices, e.g. the wheat ration during the Roman empire.

    The “take it or leave it” price model seems to have been developed as an outgrowth of the mail order business, which requires and enables a large number of transactions for more or less generic goods.

    Which is pretty much the opposite of what we’re talking about I think.

  26. Bis- I saw that McLaren have gone 7 or 8 seasons without a main sponsor because Ron Dennis and successors refused to reduce the tariff (circa £30million a year). He didn’t get a sponsor not because of the price per se but because they weren’t getting podiums and championships which is what the sponsors expect for that kind of money. It seems they’ve financed their racing on selling off stuff and touching up saudi investors. Crazy for me, but shows also not just spaniards and small businesses.

  27. @HB
    I don’t know the company structure of McLaren but it’s quite possible for quite large concerns to behave as if they were small businesses or individuals if all the decision making power is vested in one or two people. Just doesn’t often happen because small businesses don’t grow into large concerns with that sort of attitude at the helm, unless there’s some sort of unique circumstances.
    But I was thinking more in the nature of concerns – irrespective of who owns it – where the participants have a lot of personal involvement in what it does. There’s a games theory question where both participants have to agree to receive a reward but one of the participants is rewarded a great deal more than the other. Does the lesser benefiting participant accept the reward? It’s similar to whether a seller should accept a lower price for goods or services than a competitor. The logical answer to both is the same. It’s better to gain some benefit than no benefit. But individuals aren’t necessarily logical.

  28. If it is economics, how does one describe it? Maximising utility with “fairness” or more accurately sense of entitlement, the utility being maximised? In which case it must be a very valuable commodity with so many willing to go broke to preserve it.

  29. BiS:
    For a one-man business, especially a side hustle, it can be a matter of substitution, such as “I’d rather go fishing than work at something that pays less than $X/hour”.

  30. @Robbo
    No that’s not the same thing at all. There must be presumption that the actors wish to trade. Not remove themselves from trade altogether. That’s a personal decision, not a business decision.

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