CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Monday, May 21, 2012

Lee & Persson on Human Trafficking and Regulating Prostitution

Samuel Lee and Petra Persson (New York University (NYU) - Leonard N. Stern School of Business and Columbia University) have posted Human Trafficking and Regulating Prostitution on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This paper studies how prostitution laws affect trafficking and voluntary prostitution. Neither legalization nor criminalization can simultaneously protect voluntary prostitutes and unambiguously reduce trafficking. We propose an alternative, 'hybrid' policy that combines legal, strictly regulated brothels with severe criminal penalties for johns who buy sex outside of them. This achieves both objectives, restoring the free market outcome that arises in the absence of trafficking. If a regulator wants to eradicate all prostitution instead, the optimal policy criminalizes all johns. Criminalizing prostitutes is undesirable: It penalizes victims and fails to eradicate trafficking. We discuss cross-border trafficking, sex tourism, social norms, and the political will to enact prostitution laws.

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