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More adventurous than the average bear

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Monday, February 11, 2019

More bang for your buck - Prostitution and the internet

New Technology Is Shaking Up The World's Oldest Profession

"Streetwalkers have always attracted the lion’s share of attention from policymakers and researchers because they ply their trade in public places. They are more bothersome for everyone else—and, because they are the most vulnerable, more likely to come to the attention of the police and of social or health workers. But in many rich countries they are a minority of all sex workers; just 10-20% in America, estimates Ronald Weitzer, a sociologist at George Washington University...

The most striking trend our analysis reveals is a drop in the average hourly rate of a prostitute in recent years... One reason is surely the downturn that followed the 2007-08 financial crisis... Large-scale migration is another reason prices are falling...

Twenty years ago most prostitutes in Norway were locals who all aimed to charge about the same, says May-Len Skilbrei, a sociologist at Oslo University. Today, with growing numbers of sex workers from the Baltic states and central Europe, as well as Nigerians and Thais, such unofficial price controls are harder to sustain.

Inexperience is another reason newcomers to prostitution may underprice themselves, at least at first...

The shift online has probably boosted supply by drawing more locals into the sex trade, too. More attractive and better-educated women, whose marital and job prospects are therefore better, are more likely to consider sex work if it is arranged online. Indoor sex work is safer than streetwalking, and the risk of arrest is lower...

Meanwhile, broader social change may be reducing demand—and thus, prices. Free, no-strings-attached sex is far easier to find than in the past...

As in other bits of the economy, clients who seek niche services must pay more. Sex workers who offer anal sex or spanking earn on average $25 or $50 more per hour, respectively (see chart 2). Those who will accept two male clients at once or do threesomes with another woman command a larger premium...

Going from flat-chested to a D-cup increases hourly rates by approximately $40, meaning that at a typical price of $3,700, surgery could pay for itself after around 90 hours...

A prostitute’s rates also vary according to her ethnicity and nationality. What attracts a premium in one place can attract a penalty in another... In Kuala Lumpur, she found, black women command very high rates and in Singapore, Vietnamese ones do. In Dubai, European women earn the most. What counts as exotic and therefore desirable varies from place to place, and depends on many factors, such as population flows.

Local markets have other quirks. According to the site we analysed, an hour with an escort in Tokyo is a bargain compared with one in London or New York. Yet a cost-of-living index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, our sister organisation, suggests that Tokyo is the most expensive city overall of the three. The apparent anomaly may be because escorts who appear on an English-language review site mostly cater to foreigners, who are not offered the more unusual—and expensive—services Japanese prostitutes provide for locals. These include the bubble baths and highly technical massages of Sopurando ("Soapland"), a red-light district in Tokyo, which can cost ¥60,000 ($600) for a session and involve intercourse (although that is not advertised).

A degree appears to raise earnings in the sex industry just as it does in the wider labour market. A study by Scott Cunningham of Baylor University and Todd Kendall of Compass Lexecon, a consultancy, shows that among prostitutes who worked during a given week, graduates earned on average 31% more than non-graduates...

Their clients tend to be older men who seek longer sessions and intimacy, rather than a brief encounter...

Prostitution is easier than many other jobs to combine with motherhood: it pays well enough to cover child-care costs, and can be fitted around school holidays, plays and sports days, and children’s illnesses...

In 2008 the Republican and Democratic national conventions were held in Minneapolis and Denver respectively. Around 50,000 visitors flocked to each city. Another study by Mr Cunningham and Mr Kendall found that the numbers of advertisements for sex on the now-defunct “erotic services” section of Craigslist, a classified-advertising site, were 41% higher in Minneapolis and 74% higher in Denver around the conventions than expected for those days of the week and times of year...

“Screening for cops [is now] the priority over screening for rapists, thieves, kidnappers”"
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