Regulating Sex Markets: Lessons Learned and Policy Implications
In this seminar, Shah will discuss the main types of regulatory frameworks that governments and policy makers implement across the globe to regulate sex markets, and will present some of the latest causal evidence about what we know (and do not know!) regarding the impacts of these various regulatory frameworks. She will focus on recent research studying the impact of criminalizing sex work, exploiting an event in which local officials unexpectedly criminalized sex work in one district in East Java, Indonesia, but not in neighboring districts. They collect data from female sex workers and their clients before and after the change and find that criminalization increased sexually transmitted infections among female sex workers by 58 percent, measured by biological tests. They also find that criminalization decreased earnings among women who left sex work due to criminalization and decreased their ability to meet children’s school expenses while increasing the likelihood that children begin working to supplement household income.