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The Economics Of The Sex Industry

It’s the first study of its kind to measure the economic scope and impact of businesses including escort services, massage parlors and brothels. The Urban Institute has taken an in-depth look at the underground commercial sex industry in eight major U.S. cities. One of the findings was that, in 2007, this industry generated anywhere from $39 million to $290 million, depending on the city.

But beyond economics, lead researcher Meredith Dank and her colleagues looked at what motivates sex workers to enter the trade, and how pimps manage prostitutes. They unearthed a few surprising findings as well. For example, some pimps don’t like how they’re portrayed in the media.

Support comes from


Jennifer Reed, Co-Director, Sex Worker Outreach Program

Meredith Dank, researcher, The Urban Institute

Thursday, March 13, 2014

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Protesters hold signs reading, "Prostitutes are angry. Don't touch our clients," during a protest Wednesday in Paris against legislation combating prostitution and sex trafficking.
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