Contrary to assumptions that women enter the prostitution market only because they are desperate — that they need money to pay bills or buy drugs — the study indicates that many women, especially educated, affluent women, are making a rational decision to enter certain segments of the prostitution market. However, the research confirmed that women do not explicitly choose to enter the streetwalking segment of the prostitution market.
“Our model demonstrated that the prostitution market may be pulling educated women — these so-called ‘high-opportunity-cost’ women — out of the conventional labor market and the marriage market, in many cases,” said Jennifer Hafer, a doctoral student in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Arkansas. “The findings suggest that these women are not forced into the prostitution market but rather choose to enter it for many of the same reasons that people enter the conventional job market — money, stability, autonomy and even job satisfaction.”
The research concludes that there are some arguments for legal prostitution, with regulation, consumer protection and possibly taxation.
Due to negative externalities, streetwalking should remain illegal with continued enforcement, she said. Based purely on the outcomes of the model, brothel prostitution should be legalized and regulated in expanded locations. Her policy attention to escort and Internet prostitution focused on regulation, such as licensing, health testing and possibly taxation, as a means to ensure safety and security for both the prostitute and the consumer. For the escort and Internet markets to be regulated, they must be legalized.
“The major question concerning policy is what is the overall goal?” Hafer said. “Is it better for society to make prostitution illegal in all circumstances? Legalize prostitution subject to regulation? If the demand for prostitution is present, there will always be supply.”