Friday, 12 May 2006

A Theory Of Prostitution

John Allen Paulos looks at a recent paper on the Economics of prostitution and tiptoes carefully through some of its conclusions:
Like any statistical model, this one ignores the diversity of real people and the complexities of love and pleasure, changing social mores, et cetera. Still, once all its equations have been solved, a simple fact remains: Most women enter prostitution for the money.

This being so, legalizing it, regulating it (strictly enforcing laws against pimping, child prostitution, public nuisance and so forth) and improving the economic prospects for women seem to me a greatly preferable approach to it than moralistic denunciation.

He heroically avoids that old "why go out for hamburger when you've got steak at home" line even when some places scream out for it:
Wives and prostitutes are competing "commodities" (in the reductionist view of economists, that is), but wives are distinctly superior in that they can produce children that are socially recognized as coming from the father.

Thus, if men have more money, they tend to buy the superior good and, at least when wives and prostitutes come from the same pool of women, tend to buy (rent) the cheaper good less frequently.

Via 3 Quarks Daily.

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